Looking back in time

Last year I shared some “postinternet photography” from Google Street View, showing how it can transport us across the globe to strange, unfamiliar places and situations. But we can travel through time, too, with profound results.

Memory lanes: Google’s map of our livesThe Guardian
Street View traps the dead and the living alike between pages of cartography, like dried flowers. The dead may not be visible to us in the living world any more, but on Street View, they achieve permanence. “They keep updating the images for her street every few years,” Bell says, “but you go back to that year, and she’s still there. Sometimes I think about it and have a little look. I turn back the clock on the dial and she’s there again.”

But Street View does more than just capture our loved ones in candid moments. Because you can turn back the clock on earlier versions, Street View allows us to move through digital space in a non-temporal, non-linear way and connect with the past on an emotional level. “A sense of place is so important in memory,” says the photographer Nancy Forde, from Waterloo, Ontario. Her Addressing Loss project asks users to submit stories and images of loved ones they miss, and the comfort they’ve found remembering them via Street View images from when they were alive.

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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