tom moody

Security by Obscurity

...is the name of an exhibition by the students of artist Olia Lialina. Lialina's contribution to the show is in the center, being (ironically) needlessly covered up:

lialina - google map

Here is a full-sized version of the above photo (it should be viewed large to know what we are talking about in this post). On Lialina's website the photo's filename includes the words "crystallize and emboss," which are two of the better-known Photoshop effects filters. In an earlier post here we talked about Google's security filtering of satellite photos, which blogger Greg Allen suggested might make great landscape paintings. Lialina's piece was done several months before Allen's post; unlike Google, though, she hasn't just submitted one area of her sky-view to filtering but has "embossed" some areas and "crystallized" others so only a few parts of the photo appear not to have been tampered with. The embossing effect turns freeways into rivers of sparkly "bling," for example.

lialina - google map (detail)

In my earlier post on this topic I was trying to recreate the filter Google uses and inattentively chose "stained glass." It is in actuality "crystallize," which Lialina has reminded me of with her image. The earlier post has been updated. Below is the detail entirely crystallized, like a vista in the J.G. Ballard book:

lialina - google map - crystallized

My take on Lialina's photo (and Google's clumsy censorship) is we are living in a fake reality and might as well enjoy it for the aesthetics.
Google's program is a very strange one: on the one hand an almost 19th Century desire to map and catalog everything in the world but with pockets of 21st Century dishonesty and "spin" created for the sake of commercial and security state interests. Like all the artificial news that's proliferating, we just accept it and try to work around it.

- tom moody

October 5th, 2009 at 9:49 am

Posted in art - others