Ghosts of Seconds Past

The internet was designed to embrace and work with what is now and what could be possible. Zettabytes of internet traffic over the past few years remind us that we live in a fast-paced world that interacts with the internet, and influences or is influenced by it. Even when we're experiencing moments of stillness and calm physically, the world around us is constantly rushing past us.

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There is no time for yesterdays and reflections, right? However, the internet is filled with digital artifacts, remnants of the past. Everyday that we go online, there is a revolution that pushes towards the sleek future, and in that mad rush we shed away skins of our digital proxies that are left behind to linger in the vast space of the internet. The web has become a storage, or drum of formaldehyde, that preserves who we once were and what we once did. Fleeting moments that happened within seconds--a stranger's smile quickly flashing across the subway, the moment an I love you was sent via text, a burst of laughter--can be immortalized through technology, through the internet. 

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These two photos were taken by a Google Maps contributor using a 360 camera. Pedestrian-perspective carto-photography is a feature of Google Maps Street View. No editing was done (as far as I know) to create the motion blurs and overlapping double-exposures. Those are minor technological flaws in the camera or conversion process when uploaded into Google, but they remind me that we are simply ghosts passing through this sphere of existence. The woman on the sidewalk with the clear umbrella, facing the street, where is she now? In this digital rendering, she is forever waiting for a taxi or to cross the street. 

Why did I decide to Street View this particular sidewalk? Well, at that time, Audrey and I had not met yet, and we decided that we would sneak into a residential building that had a rooftop garden. I saw it in a satellite view of the city and thought, Now there's a great meet-up spot. I planned on kissing her for the first time there, so that the memory would never be replicated with any other person we ever decide to bring up to that particular garden in the future. We could have met at a particular museum, but then it would overlap with her memory of going there with someone else. We could have met at Central Park, but my memory of her would have to share a memory with a friend I once spent a day with at the park. This location was unique and it would be ours and ours only.

Using a live streaming app, I was able to guide her towards the building. She put her phone in her coat's breast pocket, with the camera facing frontward like a GoPro so I could see her POV in real-time, and she communicated with me through an earpiece. I guided her using 3-D renderings of the apartment building, because it was hard to tell which floor the garden was on. 

When I look at these photos, I think about that moment, our secret mission to infiltrate the building, and how we bonded and had fun memories without ever meeting yet. Our ghosts are still out there in the digital realm, forever navigating through the city, laughing, talking, existing.