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Kentucky Artist
September 13, 2009 4:49 PM   Subscribe

An artist who cannot spare the time to travel is using Google Street View to visit stunning locations around the world and capture them in paint. For the past year wannabe globe-trotter Bill Guffey, has spent hundreds of hours traveling thousands of virtual miles to visit places he feels he will never get to see in person. (via)
posted by netbros (34 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like this one, one dog goes one way and the other dog goes the other way, and the guy is saying 'What do you want from me?'
posted by geoff. at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2009


NEat! Coulda been really "meh" but they came out quite well.
posted by notsnot at 5:02 PM on September 13, 2009


Yeah those are pretty neat if that kind of landscape painting is your thing.
posted by gomichild at 5:05 PM on September 13, 2009


heh... technology has wrought some interesting stuff.... neat...
posted by HuronBob at 5:06 PM on September 13, 2009


Not crazy about his painting style, but this is cool and I can identify. Sometimes when I'm bored at work, I go for "walks" around Street View Tokyo and Street View Rome.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:32 PM on September 13, 2009


Google Street View has better composition skills.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:41 PM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love the picture of the field in France.

When I go to art fairs, it seems like everyone who does travel art (particularly photography) goes to three places: Paris, Rome or Prague. If you get easily bored of pictures of gondolas or Eiffel Towers or Byzantine cathedrals or [insert local landmark here], then you're pretty much out of luck. The idea of rending art out of ordinary places is promising.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:11 PM on September 13, 2009


There is a definite "I wish I'd thought of that" aspect to this.
posted by nax at 6:19 PM on September 13, 2009


NEat! Coulda been really "meh" but they came out quite well.


There are a couple that are very good-- I like the French field and the Swiss village. The others are pretty meh. They remind me of primitive paintings that a friend's elderly father-in-law does. You have to admire the earnestness, but the inconsistent perspective makes you nauseous if you look too long.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:09 PM on September 13, 2009


I guess he's out of luck if he wants to move from landscapes to nudes.
posted by mazola at 7:51 PM on September 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


This has no right to be as cool as it is.
posted by The Deej at 7:57 PM on September 13, 2009


"I guess he's out of luck if he wants to move from landscapes to nudes."

Yeah, unlike landscapes there are none of those on the Internet.

Seriously, though, while I don't particularly dig on this artist's flat and mushy style of painting, I love the concept and the scenes he chose.
posted by majick at 8:16 PM on September 13, 2009


It is interesting how much better most places look when painted. Adding that layer of romanticism to the real world, albeit in a side by side manner, adds a nice quality. Perhaps Google will host a street view overlay viewing the world through various art styles. Baroque view makes everyone fat and cheruby. The view through Dali-filter makes everything look melty and insane. Cubism view rearranges everyone's appendages. Jackson Pollock view renders the world a splatty mess.
posted by msbutah at 8:24 PM on September 13, 2009


Ummm....guy paints picture from photograph, film at 11.
posted by Muddler at 8:30 PM on September 13, 2009


Ummm....guy paints picture from photograph, film at 11.

But, duuuuude, he's painting it from a photograph of a place he's never even beeeeeeen.
posted by Netzapper at 9:34 PM on September 13, 2009


So who owns the copyrights on these derivative works? Google?
posted by jfrancis at 9:49 PM on September 13, 2009


I was looking around on his blog and bio for signs that he is somehow physically unable to go these places. I didn't see anything. He's an able bodied regular middle aged dude as far as I can tell. WTH? I find this depressing and somewhat infuriating. It reminds me that so many people put such mental barriers up against travelling and actually going places - what's that number of Americans who don't have a passport? Something like 90%? Looking at photos on the web is not travelling. There's no difference between using Google View vs. just Googling 'Timbuktu' or what have you. The paintings themselves are innocuous enough but the whole premise, well, I guess it hits some buttons for me in a totally NO kind of way.
posted by thread_makimaki at 10:10 PM on September 13, 2009


Ummm....guy paints picture from photograph, film at 11.

He's doing far more than that. He's using Google's technology to stroll the streets of cities he lacks the means to physically visit.* He's a true virtual tourist; he wanders around, gets lost, and takes lots of snapshots. Yes, he's painting from photographs. But they're his photographs from his travels.

*The snide "cannot spare the time" bit in the opening sentence of the piece suggests that anyone might stroll around New York, amble through a picturesque field in France and catch a streetcar in Lisbon if they just got off their asses and did it.
posted by aladfar at 10:46 PM on September 13, 2009


mental barriers up against travelling and actually going places - what's that number of Americans who don't have a passport? Something like 90%?

Well, for a family of four (and you've gotta take the wife and kids) the passports are gonna set you back $400. That's not chump change.
posted by crapmatic at 11:10 PM on September 13, 2009


what's that number of Americans who don't have a passport? Something like 90%? Looking at photos on the web is not travelling.

To be fair, the US is a bit isolated geographically. Its alright for Europeans to say they have a passport and have visited different countries and had a passport since they were 5 and all that. But a European visiting another country in Europe is like an American visiting another state in the US, geographically speaking.

Heck, an American can take a 5-hr flight and still be in the same country. In Europe that will take you to Africa. It might be fairer to compare how many Americans leave the American contintent (very few) with how many Europeans leave the European continent (very few)
posted by vacapinta at 12:51 AM on September 14, 2009


The locations aren't particularly stunning, but (other than that awful taxi painting) the artist does a very good job of re-framing scenes from google's blah photos.

Also, it's not like physical disability is the only impediment to globe trekking. Cost alone is an insurmountable barrier for most folks, let alone responsibilities and dependents.
posted by unmake at 1:06 AM on September 14, 2009


The question is: If you saw these paintings without knowing the story of their source material, would you in any way be impressed by them? Do they stand alone as works of art, apart from the fact that technology allowed the painter to "see" their subject?

Speaking only for myself, these look like canvases that adorn the walls of every used furniture store I've ever been in.
posted by theroadahead at 3:21 AM on September 14, 2009


These paintings are just awful. It's like he watched some Van Goghs and then toned the style down and took out everything that's radical and made it grandmother-compatible. It's the kind of stuff amateur artists sell on ebay. Awful.
posted by dhoe at 3:29 AM on September 14, 2009


It reminds me that so many people put such mental barriers up against travelling and actually going places

I don't have mental barriers against travel, but I like most Americans get very little vacation time and are usually discouraged from using to much of it at one time. I haven't taken a vacation longer than a week in my life and it's not really worth the effort to go to Europe for a week. As of right now I have exactly 1.5 days of vacation time accrued since I just started my job in July and took one day off last week.
posted by octothorpe at 6:59 AM on September 14, 2009


" It reminds me that so many people put such mental barriers up against travelling and actually going places.... Looking at photos on the web is not travelling. "

Dude. Seriously. Come on.

You're in Europe. Travelling to other countries is like running out for beer and a carton of smokes. You people need a passport to cross the street. Americans don't visit other countries because other countries are large fractions of their time and income away. You can act like Americans are categorically philistine homebodies, and nobody will disagree with you, but please. Don't be disingenuous enough to completely set aside the fact that the country in question is roughly the size of your entire damned continent.

You can have yourself a nice driving weekend holiday and visit 3 countries easily. An American of average income would spend something like 7 to 10% of her annual income on airfare alone to get a four-member family to Rome and back. And that's before accommodations, food, or activities.

You could be painting a scene in Rome after one long day's drive and a couple of tanks of gas. Don't feign astonishment that someone most of a planet away can't do so as conveniently for their mushy-brushed art project. That's not a "mental barrier against traveling" and you know it. It's a very real physical and financial constraint.
posted by majick at 7:02 AM on September 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let me try another tack: Maybe you Europeans don't understand the scale of things? An 8ish hour drive gets you from Zurich to Rome. An 8 hour drive isn't even enough to traverse my own state at blatantly illegal speeds, let alone the other 49. Mental barrier? You think what stands between me and a weekend in Portugal is a mental barrier?
posted by majick at 7:08 AM on September 14, 2009


His paintings from photos look like paintings.......from photos. The reason contemporary artists still study from live models and do landscape outside "in-real-time" is because a painter has to learn how light falls on an object. To paint from photos is not effective because the camera doesn't see quite the same way the eye does...the camera flattens out and darkens shadows, for example. The subject of this story would be better served by setting up a still life in his front room and painting that...or stepping outside his own door and painting the tree in his yard!
posted by naplesyellow at 8:45 AM on September 14, 2009


Let me try another tack: Maybe you Europeans don't understand the scale of things?

Hi. On behalf of all Canadians, I must politely ask that you quit whining and get a fucking passport already. Thanks.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like his paintings. His lines are horrible but I like his colors and shades. Is he using acrylics?
posted by surplus at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2009


FWIW, I live in Europe now, but I'm originally from Japan, and am a U.S. citizen. So I guess that makes me a perennial ex-pat.

And yes, I do understand the scale of things. (If I were a European I'd feel insulted I guess. Geez.)

So yeah, I have always traveled. So did my parents, with 3 kids in tow most of the time, and they were not that well off or anything (though my dad's company sent him to a lot of places). I guess it's the way I grew up, and have continued to live. I encounter a lot of people, all over the place, not just Americans (some of my relatives in Japan keep telling me 'someday' they are going to visit me, but...they never do) who seem to not be able to fathom the idea of going somewhere. My point is that actually going to a place is so so different from looking at photos of it..

And, I'm not even saying that this guy has to go to Europe. He doesn't seem to go anywhere. There are lots of great places to see in the U.S. too, not to mention Canada and Mexico etc. Not that far away.
posted by thread_makimaki at 12:11 PM on September 14, 2009


"So did my parents, with 3 kids in tow most of the time, and they were not that well off or anything "

I think it's great that you traveled as a kid, and more kids should have that chance, but your idea of "not that well off" doesn't really jive with, y'know, the real world. I just don't see where the average person is going to liberate five grand or so from the average middle class budget to do that "all the time."

I've got a $1300 vet bill to pay this week. One of my kids needs $9,500 braces. Replacing the radiator on my 1997 vehicle with 250,000 miles on it: $400. After-COBRA medical expenses from the last couple of months run into the hundreds, and my COBRA bill comes up in a couple of weeks. It's getting late in the year and I'd better set aside a little something for taxes, too. I'm a normal, average Joe, with a normal average Joe's bills to pay. Hell, I'm better off than the average Joe since though unbelievable serendipity I have far below-market housing costs. Yet how the fuck am I supposed to take my family jet-setting? At this point I'd be happy to just stay home and stop bleeding money, and you're telling me and my family (all passport-holders, by the way) that we should spend thousands of bucks at a shot globetrotting, and we could do that if I just... get over my "mental barriers?"

Travel broadens the horizons, and I'm all for broadening them, but seriously, come down off the high horse. Travel, even when done carefully and inexpensively, costs an assload of money. Most people don't have assloads of money. Not having a few grand to blow on international travel isn't a "mental barrier" by any stretch of the imagination, and saying so just makes you a classist dick blinded by your privileges.

"My point is that actually going to a place is so so different from looking at photos of it.."

That's a valid point, but you know what? I don't think it justifies your disgust. I also don't think it justifies your disdain of anyone not wealthy enough to be an international traveler.
posted by majick at 1:07 PM on September 14, 2009


Not to mention maybe he's got a daytime job in the city.
posted by surplus at 1:51 PM on September 14, 2009


"An artist who cannot spare the time to travel... has spent hundreds of hours traveling thousands of virtual miles to visit places

right. so that makes sense.

thought they were rather 'meh'
posted by mary8nne at 5:34 AM on September 15, 2009


So now Google needs to add "Impressionist View," "Romanticists View," "As painted by [fill in your favorite artist] View," etc.
posted by nax at 6:24 AM on September 15, 2009


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