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Watch the Icons of Google Maps Come to Life in the Real World

Artist Aram Bartholl explores the growing influence of digital technology and the social web through urban installations and interactive projects. What happens when you reinsert elements from the digital realm into our physical surroundings? How ridiculous does a Facebook-style tag look hovering over your head in real life? Here, the Berlin-based publisher Gestalten interviews Bartholl about his work for the release of his book, The Speed Book. This short documentary was produced by Ole Wagner, Francisco Saco, and Robert Porsche. 

Bartholl's "Map" project focuses on how Google Maps have come to shape how we experience cities. He describes the work on his site

The project "Map" is a public space installation questioning the red map marker of the location based search engine Google Maps. "Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps." With a small graphic icon Google marks search results in the map interface. The design of the virtual map pin seems to be derived from a physical map needle. On one hand the marker and information speech bubble next to it cast a shadow on the digital map as if they were physical objects. When the map is switched to satellite mode it seems that they become part of the city. On the other hand it is a simple 20 px graphic icon which stays always at the same size on the computer screen. The size of the life size red marker in physical space corresponds to the size of a marker in the web interface in maximal zoom factor of the map. Where is the center of a city?

In the city center series "Map" is set up at the exact spot where Google Maps assumes to be the city center of the city. Transferred to physical space the map marker questions the relation of the digital information space to every day life public city space. The perception of the city is increasingly influenced by geolocation services.

For more videos by Gestalten, visit http://www.gestalten.tv/.

This post first appeared on The Atlantic.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is an associate editor at The Atlantic. She curates the Video channel. All posts »

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