European Culture Capital Reinvents Google Street View

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Maison Folie. Photo: courtesy of mons2015.eu
Rue des epingliers. Photo: courtesy of mons2015.eu
Photo: courtesy of arte.fr
Rue de la Biche. Photo: courtesy of mons2015.eu
Rue de la raquette. Photo: courtesy of mons2015.eu
Rue de la peine perdue. Photo: courtesy of mons2015.eu
Marche aux herbes. Photo: courtesy of mons2015.eu

The quaint town of Mons, Belgium has been christened a European culture capital in 2015. As part of the forthcoming agenda, the city has proposed a series of artistic programs and one, in particular, has secured much anticipation. Mons Street Review (a nod to Google Street View), the photographic initiative spearheaded by artists Antonia Taddei and Ludovic Nobileau, and supported by the Mons Foundation 2015, tracks a whacky vehicle and its 360°camera across the streets of downtown Mons where it captures unusual scenes curated by its citizens. Why? So that the public can discover, or re-discover, the municipality of Mons in a unique way.

“It was important for Mons’ citizens to participate in the representation of their own city,” affirm Antonia Taddei and Ludovic Nobileau. The interactive visit, an immersive experience, transforms Mons’ streets into a series of mini-stages whereby its citizens partake in a type of pictorial theater.

Set-ups required little preparation, Nobileau insisted on the spontaneity of performance art. The artists simply explained their vision and left it to the people to conjure up their roles within scenes. However, the creative venture did take ample amount of research. Each photograph takes into account the historical and cultural setting of the city and its different streets.

Ultimately, Nobileau and Taddei designed to encourage Mons’ citizens to embrace the unexpected in the familiar and take ownership of their city in a positive way. The project itself can also be seen as a critique of the static way that Google Street View represents a city. “It should be up to people, rather than Google, to represent cities,” concludes Nobileau.


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