Google Street View has recently been embroiled in a number of high-profile trials over privacy violations -- and in the middle of all that hubbub, Google has been trying to roll out the service in Germany. As a result of all the front-page headlines, Germans have met Street View with a mix of skepticism, nonchalance, and bemusement. Some -- around 244,000 households -- have opted out of Street View altogether. Others have chosen to protest (or maybe celebrate) the service by punking the Street View cam.
Staging shots for Street View isnt' new -- in fact, it's been done many times here in the U.S. and elsewhere. But most of the pics we've seen have been overtly funny, and the two images from Germany are...well, "funny" isn't really the word. "Quirky" is probably a better way to describe the shot of a naked man emerging from the trunk of his convertible, and "disturbing" pretty accurately sums up the image of a woman giving birth on a sidewalk.
The two images have set tongues wagging across the Pond, and everyone seems to have a different theory about what's going on in each. Some insist that they're real, but we side with the majority of people, who say the shots are staged.
From where we sit, these pranks just another example of the German's long-abiding love of performance art. The genre as we know it evolved directly from the cabarets of the Weimar Republic and from the German-speaking Dadaists of Zurich, and these two Street View shots have all the hallmarks you'd expect from their World War I-era forebears: they're a little surreal, a little sublime, and more than a little grotesque.
Say what you will about the Germans, but you have to give them an A for creative effort, right?