Michael Wolf’s four series Paris Street View, Manhattan Street View, Street View Portraits, and A Series of Unfortunate Events each question the practice of surveillance and its implications for photographers working in the public realm.
In Paris Street View, the first of these series, Wolf mounted his camera on a tripod aimed at his computer monitor, re-photographing the streets of Paris as documented by Google Street View. Created in 2009-10 during the French government’s attempts to regulate street photography, the series conspicuously contrasts both their 2007 decision to triple the number of video surveillance cameras in France by 2009, and the ongoing presence of Google’s unauthorized photographic mapping system. Via his “re-photography,” Wolf challenges Google’s process of automatic documentation—which is governed by chance—reinserting the photographer into the equation. Moreover, the works nod to the digital medium, his highly pixelated images strategically including Google’s symbolic language and navigational interface.
In 2011, A Series of Unfortunate Events was awarded World Press Photo’s Honourable Mention in the Contemporary Issues category, a controversial decision that re-defined photojournalism. While they critically signalled a global shift in practice and approach at the time, Wolf’s Street View works remain some of his most contentious to this day.
Curated by Adam Mulder