RGB portraits is a documentary tour that uses photographs from Google Street View to systematically capture the blurred and pixelated faces of the prostitutes that appear around the motorways of Alt Empordà captured by Google’s cameras.
For years, Google has been exploring the roads, trails, landscapes and even indoor spaces around the world gathering images. To some extent, the images captured by its nine-lens camera reflect the methodology and philosophy of the first street photographers. Without seeking out decisive moments or particular framing, Google is creating a constantly evolving photographic map of the world where almost everything is photographed; we just have to discover it. The Google Street View project has raised controversy since its inception in 2007. Privacy, the right to be forgotten and anonymity have been some of the arguments behind these complaints. For years around these issues, people, faces, license plate numbers, entire facades of military buildings and celebrities’ homes have been blurred and made to vanish.
Google Street View has sparked a kind of collector’s and voyeur-like desire that has led many people to discover all sorts of oddities, from crimes to people in costume as Google’s cameras passed by, like beauty contests searching for Miss Google Street View. Street prostitution has not escaped this urge and many websites have appeared collecting images of the women and their locations. Because of this and due to the complaints of councils and associations, many of these images (basically the most explicit) have been removed and replaced with other images of the same stretch of road, this time empty and with no hint of prostitution. This kind of censorship on the Internet portends that it is likely, over time, that circumstances and conflicts will increasingly vanish from Google Street View just as these images of street prostitution have.
Therefore, the project is a document that presents a double thread. On one hand, it is a hyper-realistic document very close to reality itself that helps to show the state of affairs regarding prostitution in Catalonia, where there is a lack of clear and specific legislation to regulate in detail the current situation of the sector on the roads of Alt Empordà. On the other hand, it is also a document of the changes and development of the images of Google Street View which, despite what one might think at first, is a plastic and organic background in constant evolution and change that cuts and shapes reality based on own interests and others coming from various pressure groups.