Words and art by Isabel Hood
It could be suggested that Google Maps has brought us one step closer to “...an increasingly unpleasant atmosphere on the Net, turning it into the virtual shopping mall that we've been told it ought to become anyway.” Andreas Broeckmann, Networked Agencies. Google is a corporate technology engaged in massive data collection. Presenting itself as an open-source software, accompanied with the complicity of users accessing the maps, the service can simply capitalise on this.
In The Arcades Project Walter Benjamin explains the notion of shopping districts becoming commercial “inner spaces”. Emerging in Paris in the mid-late 19th century, Benjamin believed they were creating microcosms of cities. These districts, sheltered in iron and glass, were internalised, yet not fully enclosed. They were technically public, yet communicated a clear sense of separation from the rest of the city. They were a manifestation of commodification and unjustified ideas of cultural hubs.
Through a comparison of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project and Google Maps, Isabel does a visual reflection on the commercialisation and ambiguity of interior and exterior space, and private and public space.