2013, Website experiments with using Google Street View API’s to explore a virtual escape compared to a physical one, and to challenge an audience’s expectation of physical presence and location.

This work was inspired by projects which utilize the potential of the internet as a habitable medium for transportation and reoccupation. Specifically, the works of OKFocus’s, a creative agency specializing in social web applications, which amplify the interactive experience of the web browser to create unexpected connections. In this context, pushes the boundaries of what Google means in our everyday lives. Traditionally, this powerful database is used to find the nearest store, or the fastest route to a destination. By reshaping the framework for how we interact with the database, and focusing on purely emotional desires for exploration and wonder, opens up a portal for mental escape.

Through a simple fill in the blank interface, this single serve website transports a visitor out of the everyday and into another location by answering questions about activities opposed to destination. Destinations were chosen for their extreme qualities. They are places we most likely would never have the opportunity to visit without the help of technologies like Google Earth. Simultaneously, they are places we may have visited in the past, but now see through the fresh, yet mediated, eyes. We are free to explore the dangerous, precarious, and profound spaces without the baggage of the real world. Through this platform, we can momentarily transport ourselves out of the everyday and into something entirely different. The success of this escape, is that it is momentary. It is a fix, a drug, a distraction to the boredom of our physical environments and a commentary on our need for instant gratification in contemporary society.

Expanding its reach beyond just the web browser, was also installed in the exhibition Arc of Alchemy at the Sol Koffler Gallery in Providence, RI. Here, the site was rendered on a large format screen mounted to the gallery wall. This installation forced the participant to engage with the screen far more intimately than they typically would on their personal computer. It turns the screen into a window to another world and the escape becomes even more immersive, pulling people not only out of boredom, but out of another physical exploit altogether. It simultaneously reverses the expectation of a physical and digital escape. In the end, these extreme experiences are grounded in the immediate desire of the escape and the project is designed to capitalize on the instant gratification of teleportation. By asking the user to respond to a single question with a gut response, the transportation is that much more powerful. We may not know where we end up, but we know it is better than the current reality. Experiences of intoxication, speed, flight, leisure, and adventure are encouraged. Who wouldn’t rather be ‘really high’ than sitting in an office cubical? In the moment between responding to the question and arriving at the destination the mediation creeps in. The jarring transition between worlds is ever apparent and the audience is met with unexpected schisms as they await their escape. It is here that the distinction between physical and digital escape is called into question. In the case of the gallery, the sudden transition into the project is also met by the abrupt transition out. When the user turns around, they are greeted by a vastly different world. They are not alone and the drop back into reality is as disruptive as the escape from it.