Searching terms that might lead to images of places

by Sara Clarke

Watts, Los Angeles. From Doug Rickard’s A New American Picture. Image via Cool Hunting.

I think I found an apartment in L. A. Because this apartment is across the country in a city I’ve spent approximately one week in, ever, there is a lot of speculation happening. It’s in a neighborhood I’ve never been to. A neighborhood that is on the bleeding edge of the Angeleno version of gentrification, maybe safe and wonderful and full of colorful local culture, or maybe a godforsaken blighted hellhole.

I’m spending a lot of time looking at the building, the block, and the neighborhood on Google Street View. Does it look OK? Does it look terrible? Does it look like someplace I could live? Street View is like a magic eight ball in photographic form. It all feels a little like a nineteenth century immigrant contemplating the photo of his picture bride.

I’m not the only one who gazes deeply into the magic looking glass of Street View. There have been piles of online features highlighting the beautiful and surprising American landscapes compiled at random by Google. Most interestingly, photographer Doug Rickard used the images in his series A New American Picture. These are images of American desolation, places we sweep under the rug, revealed by the all-seeing internet eye.

Hopefully none of them are pictures of my new apartment.

An exhibition of these photographs will be on view at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York from October 18 through November 24, 2012. There’s an opening reception and book signing (yes, you can also buy the book) this Thursday, October 18. You should go!

Chicago. Doug Rickard, from A New American Picture. Image via Cool Hunting.

Detroit. Doug Rickard, from A New American Picture. Image via Yossi Milo Gallery.