A WALKER IN TIMES OF DIGITAL MAPS
- One. Territory and map: the tools
The way in which we understand and experience the geography of our cities has changed substantially over the past ten years. Maps and street-view digital tools that apps such as Baidu’s Total View and Google’s Street View have rendered so popular among users are largely responsible for this transformation.
These are maps that cannot be spread out as their fold has been substituted by compact chains of zeros and ones that translate into pixels on screens. These maps also work as massive files with dimensions that can be considered, in more than one sense, unmanageable and dissuasive.
Metropolis is the product of not becoming intimidated by this excess, managing to walk in and then out of it holding a material, tangible, analogic work.
- Two. Back to the matter: books and mosaics
The result of this are ten large books and mosaics. Each mosaic – and book – features one hundred and twenty images of a big city. Ten megacities, ten famous cities, and ten cities that 20th century street photography turned into its favourite settings. Cities that are, indeed, mythical.
In this work, Jon Gorospe has followed a rigorous and thoughtful process that roughly involved choosing a city, opening its map, walking virtually along its streets and taking screenshots of what has been photographed beforehand. Pictures of other pictures, walks on previous walks.
- And three. The drifts of the new walker
Metropolis also carries within it a tribute and a criticism: in the first case it celebrates the figure of the flâneur, and pays further homage to some of the photographers that have documented these cities relentlessly throughout the past century.
The criticism, on the other hand, is directed at the street photography of our times, the 21st century. As images are taken every second, the documentary work is displaced and problematized. The documentarian will then be the one in charge of going through the tumultuous available archives, choosing and extracting from them. It is the latter action that gives value to the images and this is how, more than ever, a photographer becomes the anthologist, the flâneur submerged in an overwhelming mass of images adrift.
If the irony starts with the awareness of the available resources, there is no doubt that we are in front of a deliberately ironic work. In it, the question of what the contemporary can be is raised once more and Jon Gorospe has taken on the task of trying to provide a convincing answer to it.
Text by Rubén Ángel Arias