Street Ghosts – Virtualised Reality Made Real

Street Ghosts

The grid swallows us. Increasingly it defines and shapes our positions. Italian artist Paolo Cirio uses this uncomfortable fact as the basis for a new work. Street Ghosts reveals a sense of the awkwardness generated by the invasion of public streets by indiscreet media organisations. Google Street View, for example, takes our picture whether we want it to or not. It was only after protests started to sound that Google decided to blur every person beyond recognition – all those they had ‘accidentally’ photographed while mapping the streets of the world. Some of us, however, still remain stuck in this popular tool. Cirio has taken these trapped souls and abused them once more. The artist placed printed life-size photos on the exact spot they were photographed, as a ghostly reminder of the cyborg car that once drove by unannounced and shot everything. Since Google has blurred these human figures beyond recognition they now appear on the street as disfigured versions of innocent passers-by. Paolo Cirio’s Street Ghosts is another reminder that net art increasingly stretches the borders of cyberspace to include the non-digital physical domain as its natural habitat. Some would call it Post-Internet art, others might feel Cirio is bending certain elements of the New Aesthetic – though ultimately these are only words. Cirio, like many other artists today, moves beyond words. Street Ghosts is an apparition that effortlessly passes between the real and unreal, between the street and Street View. In his own description of the work Cirio speaks of conflict, of his work addressing a media offensive on the city. Yet if the figures in Street Ghosts are casualties of war, it has been a quiet and stealthy sniper war. The enemy has become part of the fabric of the city and of the infrastructures of the world. Since these are man-made we might really be experiencing a kind of interior battle with ourselves. Any which way, Paolo Cirio visualizes this covert operation engagingly.

Josephine Bosma