„I was here but didn’t take a picture“

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Inspired by the writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher and political activist Susan Sontag, who once said, „I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,“ I initiated an incomplete collection of screenshots that show specific sites on the Earth’s surface via Google Maps, with the title „I was here but didn’t take a picture!“. 

The screenshot marks certain places on the earth surface via Google Maps. The screenshot implies that I was at some point at a certain location. But instead of taking a picture of the view, I only document the location via the google maps web mapping service. Something that many of us use for navigation, especially in unknown places. Which makes me wonder in how many cases a service lies between us and a „new experience,“ and come to the question of how much we have lost the ability to trust a physical experience?

The screenshot becomes evidence that someone has been somewhere. It becomes a document, an information feed into a global online archive that defines us as we define it. That depends on us and on which we depend as it offers us various tools of ‚control‘ which simultaneously control us at the same time.

Replacing a location as a prospect and thus a geographical location on a map with a view of a view does not dissolve the paradox of thew fatigue over the depiction of the world, but merely shifts the representation into another visual system of representation. Can this shift evoke an imaginary in form of image / sound / thought / taste in the viewer?

How a specific location could be “ in general“ or for you specifically depends on your own experiences and interests, as one and the same place can mean something quite different from a person’s very own view.

I was here but did’t take a picture!

Literally the geographical location is your own position on the surface of the earth and here it is the view in your head.

I was here but did’t take a picture!