“Google Street View: Navigating the operative image” presented by Holzl and Marie


Session Title:

  • Location/Space (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Google Street View: Navigating the operative image




  • Taking the example of the ubiquitous navigation software Google Maps/Street View, our presentation investigates the complex temporality of the GSV database via a ‘close navigation’ of a GSV scene in Oslo. In so doing, we address not only to the temporal discontinuities and gaps of the GSV database, which the user navigates as a spatially continuous image, but also its impact on data privacy. We show that the algorithmic convergence of the photographic and cartographic when navigating across Google Maps/Street View results in the ?total image’ of the city where photographic and cartographic views are part of the same navigational trajectory. In fact, with digital navigation software such as GSV we experience the city as one and the same data‑space which we traverse simultaneously on site and on screen. This navigability of the GSV image is afforded by real‑time data processing, based on mutual data exchanges between user location, hardware, software, network and database. In consequence, the GSV image becomes what Harun Farocki has called an ‘operative image’, an image that no longer represents an object but is part of an operation’ (2004: 17). The users’ trajectories feeding back into the database initiate what we could call, referring to Paul Virilio, a ‘reverse operativity’ which proves to be the more problematic side of ubiquitous locative media applications such as GSV.