Eye of the Storm

Street View offers a reflection of the everyday social relations of pandemic life. It is insufficient in all the ways we might expect: lacking in narrative, devoid of intimacy, filtered through a screen. But its flatness reflects a feeling associated with 2020, and this is the record we have.

Chasing the Apocalypse

The first time I came to the Project Faultless test site, though I had already spent a month driving solo through Nevada, I didn’t get out of my car. The earth seemed soiled, toxic — a threat waiting to seep through the rubber soles of my hiking boots. If I walked, I felt like I would become part of the landscape.

See No Evil

By blurring out Ariel Castro's home, where the crimes took place, Google has implied that what happened inside the house is beyond comprehension; the company has unmoored the once-physical 2207 Seymour Avenue from the concept of the house. This clumsy attempt to distract us from tragedy neither protects virtual visitors nor honors its victims — rather, in altering its own records, Google turns the site into a horror trope.

Haunted Village

Toward the end of the 19th century, medical science viewed epileptics as straddling the line between sanity and insanity. The etiology of the disease was not understood, and seizures were seen as uncontrollable and dangerous periods of insanity that could launch an epileptic into a murderous rage, no matter the nature of their ordinary behavior. The perceived danger of these fits led to the forced institutionalization of epileptics. One idea, held to be progressive at the time, was to take them out of “lunatic asylums” and place them in their own institutions — not because they were seen as requiring less supervision so much as their seizures distressed other patients.

Too Much of Nothing

When I looked at Nothing on Street View, though, it didn’t feel uncanny, just anachronistic. It’s name implied a time where you could really feel lost, far off the grid. Now you can’t even go where there is nothing to get away from digital capture, from the standardization and assimilation with which Google is “organizing the world’s information.” But it is not like Nothing was some serendipitous joy back when I used to drive by it. It felt like a desperate scam being conducted from beyond the margins.

Sun Belt Simulacra

Whereas history is constantly being rewritten, geography stubbornly reminds you of what you once thought to be true. Each ranch house totally disconnected from public transport is a reminder of the easy motoring myth it was founded on. The half-built gates on Douglas Road are a contestation of limitless progress.