The Google Cultural Institute has quietly become one of the coolest art initiatives online that you probably aren't taking advantage of. From online photo exhibitions to their "Open Gallery" platform for museums and galleries to share content, there is so much to see and learn already, and they continue to launch cool, innovative, and important projects all the time.
The institute recently launched the Street Art Project, an ongoing collection of photos from around 30 institutions around the world of public murals and graffiti by hundreds of artists listed alphabetically from -G-G- to Zumi. Users can learn about the history of 5 Pointz and see its walls pre-whitewashing, then travel to Argentina or Paris to see the work of artists with completely different styles, all without leaving the site's "Map the Walls" feature. The amount of content is incredible, but the project is not without criticism.
The New York Times writes that "in a sense, Google is formalizing what street art fans around the world already do: take pictures of city walls and distribute them on social media. Yet for Google to do so could raise concerns, given the criticism of its aggressive surveillance tactics, especially in Europe, where its Street View satellite mapping is widely seen as a violation of privacy." The Times also reports that, in an attempt to "avoid offense," Google will only include images "provided by organizations that sign a contract attesting that they own the rights to them. It will not cull through Street View images but will provide the technology to organizations that want to use it to record street art legally. Some groups have provided exact locations of the artworks; others have not."
There have been mixed reactions from the artists themselves, but Shepard Fairey is cool with it. "I’ve always used my street art to democratize art," he said in a statement, "so it would be philosophically inconsistent for me to protest art democratization through Google."
Head to the Street Art Project homepage to explore the content and share your thoughts in the comment section below.
[via New York Times]