Street Ghosts

In a nutshell, Paolo Cirio, spotted silhouettes of people on Google maps’ Street View, printed them life sized and stuck them on the wall closest to where they were originally captured by the Google car.


Probably the first thing that comes to your mind is ethics. How is it ethically correct for Google to display images, without consent, of us in the public realm? At least they blur out faces though, that makes it all ok right?
Or, how is it ethically correct to print out images of people without consent, even if their faces are censored? Well thanks to Google publishing them to the public realm, there isn’t much you can do. Anyone can access these photos.

Paolo Cirio, using Google’s free online mapping service, took screenshots of random people and blew them up to make life sized cut outs which he then pasted onto walls in the original location spotted on Google Maps’ Street View.

This is touching on the fact that it is impossible to photograph streets, during the day, without people occupying them. The world we live in is massively inhibited and overflowing with humans, so much so that we can’t walk down the street without seeing another person. Google had to adapt to this by censoring people’s faces, a simpler solution to photoshoping them out completely.


Cirio is questioning if we actually accept being photographed by Google, as we never signed any disclaimers or were never approached for us to decline.
By posting these photos, Cirio is hoping the subject returns to the same spot and sees themselves. What would you do if you saw yourself printed onto a wall of the corner shop you pass every day?

On the other hand, I have friends who embraced their shot on Street View, so much so they used it as their social media’s profile pictures.
I guess it comes into another debate about background ethics, age and the media affecting them. Put loosely, the elder generation tend to be more reserved about social media engagement compared to younger people.