Google is everywhere, including places one might least suspect. Photographer Aaron Hobson has created a series of breathtaking panoramas highlighting some of the most remote places documented by Google Street View. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE , he discusses his virtual journeys.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Hobson, you didn't photograph your latest series of photos yourself -- they came from Google's Street View service. How did that come about?
Hobson: I began working on a film I was asked to direct by a producer in Los Angeles. I am unfamiliar with Los Angeles. Since that is where we are going to shoot the film, I begen to use Google Street View to do the location scouting for the project. I spent countless hours traveling the streets of L.A. in search of locations ideal for each scene. I was simply amazed at how much area was photographed by the Google cars. There wasn't an alley or street in L.A. that I could not 'drive' down and look in every direction every 15 feet for a shot.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Los Angeles? It seems like you were looking for an escape. Your 'GSV Cinemascapes' often show odd places in remote parts of the world.
Hobson: After location scouting I began to explore other places around the globe for my amusement. After a few days I was addicted to this virtual world of travel. I would start on a remote road in Norway, for example, and just go forward on it for miles and miles, hour after hour. I would become immersed and 'lost' in this world. Then I began to explore more remote locations. I live in a remote location myself, and I wanted to find other places similar to where I live.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: It sounds like a nice leisure activity, how did it eventually become work too?
Hobson: After hours and hours of driving through empty countrysides, tundras, and deserts, I began to put together a dozen or more locations that matched my aesthetic appeal and narrative. I decided to turn my gaze outward at the world and the isolation of other people and places through the Google technology. This process is about the amazing technology of Google Street View and the places it has allowed anyone with a computer and internet access to explore. I am trying to share remote locations of splendor and beauty, places of isolation where life is difficult and slower being so far removed from large societies. SPIEGEL ONLINE: The photos are the latest works in the Cinemescapes series you began in 2007. Most of these were self portraits. Why?
Hobson: I picked up a camera for the first time in 2007 after seven years of living in the remote Adirondack Mountains of New York state near the Canadian border. I had started a family and settled down to a permanent full-time job. The slow pace of life up here allowed me to reflect on my life and particularly my younger days of turmoil, drugs, and trouble. I started to photograph myself in isolated and emotional narratives as a way of releasing those memories and feelings. It was a visual diary of sorts since I am not good at writing and found the process of photography to be very fulfilling.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The images have a narrative quality with a cinematic touch. Were they successful?