Street ghosts are a series of interventions in the public space made by the artist Paolo Cirio. They are based on the pictures published by google in the street view mode of their maps service. Basically Paolo looked for pictures of persons who were caught by the cameras of the street view car, then he printed and cut such pictures on real scale and pasted them in the place where they were taken.
Street ghosts is an interesting project mostly because it presents common persons in the public space. While this might sound rather simple, it is definitely not a trivial issue. In fact, it is rather difficult to find pictures of “normal” people in the streets. The urban areas are notably overloaded with content which in most cases is even “better” than reality. In the worst case, they may let us think that we all are constantly involved in a fashion show, where all of us are perfect, or close to it. So here is where the interventions made by Paolo become meaningful. By presenting persons who were caught spontaneously in the streets, he is claiming back a little bit of the public space for the inhabitants of the cities. Those persons who are largely excluded from the mediascape of the city, find through such interventions a small place in it.
The statement that the artist has written for the project is mostly concerned with privacy issues related to the use of technology:
In this project, I exposed the specters of Google’s eternal realm of private, misappropriated data: the bodies of people captured by Google’s Street View cameras, whose ghostly, virtual presence I marked in Street Art fashion at the precise spot in the real world where they were photographed.
[…] The obscure figures fixed to the walls are the murky intersection of two overlain worlds: the real world of things and people, from which these images were originally captured, and the virtual afterlife of data and copyrights, from which the images were retaken. [sic]
Perhaps, the fact that street view captures common people makes them even more interesting. In fact, those ghosts represent the reality of the streets, don’t they?