During my residency at Tides Institute & Museum of Art in Eastport, Maine, I stumbled into the gap between walking the city with my eyes using Google Maps when I was still far away and walking its actual streets when I arrived. The first and last time the Google Street View Machine visited Eastport to document it was back in 2009, using the low-resolution cameras of that era. Since then, the images on Google Maps became tremendously sharper, but Google never revisited Eastport and left the online city frozen in a pixelated digital marginalization.
I decided to live in both cities at the same time, meeting the real people and places of the offline Eastport and moving deeper into the online Eastport Google Maps offered.
I documented my experiences in the city in the Unpixelated sharpness of 2021, digitally eliminating myself from the image. I then added my video reviews of the city to Google Map, asking myself, can a visitor really be in a city? Is my vision of the city still pixelated or obstructed by my own body and biases or by the representations technology companies and the media force on us?
I kept tripping inside the Google Map reviews written by residents and visitors of the offline city, searching for the online city I shared with all these people laboring to describe the 12$ meal they had at the Waco Diner or their last visit to the hardware store. I constructed a third city out of their letters and images, flying above the portrayal of services, prices, and rankings, building my own Eastport. Maybe that's the only way to escape the power of the systems of representation that control us? Maybe we don't have any choice but to structure our own poetry, our own meaning, our own private maps? I call upon all future visitors to Eastport - take everything into your own hands.
____ May 2021
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