‘You will be ‘sent’ to a place you have never before visited and be given a theme to explore. You should (through research) choose how you might best represent and approach your theme or message in the production of a series of 10 images sourced through Google Earth and/or Google Street View.’
I was given ‘Seattle, WA, United States’ and ‘Commercialism’. Both of these seemed very alien to me to begin with. I have never been to Seattle, so know very little about the place and didn’t fully understand the phrase commercialism or how it related to my given place.
Upon research I discovered that very large companies dominate the business landscape in Seattle, including Amazon, Starbucks and Nordstrom. Commercialism, by definition means: 1) Emphasis on the maximizing of profit 2) Practices and attitudes that are concerned with the making of profit at the expense of quality. The businesses listed above all headquarter in Seattle and are massive companies due to commercialism. They offer high quality products and services, all to increase profits. To narrow down my research I decided to focus on coffee chain Starbucks, in all it’s world domination glory!
Starbucks represents commercialism, development and change. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington, on 30th March 1971. I felt this was a vital event in history, as Starbucks has become one of, if not the world’s top coffee retailer. There are now 17,000 stores in 55 countries, including over 12,500 in the United States, over 1,200 in Canada and over 700 in the United Kingdom, 55 in Russia. As Seattle was the birthplace of this business phenomenon, I captured all the Starbucks in Seattle using Google Earth and the first ever Starbucks, that still has all it’s original finishings.
I thought using Google Earth, as a tool for photography and creating new imagery was a very interesting idea and experience. Yes, they are images taken by someone else but Google Earth allows us to take those images and make them completely new, like in our appropriation task. Even though I would have preferred to take these images first hand myself, I think it’s ok to use Google Earth as a means to create new photographs. Google Earth creates a ‘non-moment’. We are given a very limited amount of information about when the images were created and events before and after the snapshots. I think this adds to its allure when taking images from Google Earth.