Cities inevitably change over the years and through subtle alterations; a patch of greenery is replaced by concrete, and sometimes radical transformations; a set of small-scale buildings is knocked down and replaced by a skyscraper, and then the architectural character of a particular setting shifts. The past becomes a layer of memory.
Artist Halley Docherty has created a more tangible view of that layering of change, creating a series in which he takes images of 18th and 19th-century paintings of London and superimposes them into Google Street View images at their precise locations. The result is a mashup of time and representational techniques, showing not only how places have changed over time, but giving insight into how we portray and view ourselves.
A View of Greenwich from the River by Canaletto (1750–52).
Blackman Street London by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1885)
Northumberland House by Canaletto (1752)
In some scenes, such as the collage featuring Canaletto's 1752 painting "Northumberland House," the subject matter has changed at the scale of the urban fabric. Not only have the people, streets, and setting changed, but the buildings themselves are different — the Northumberland House was demolished in 1874 to make way for a road. Its presence in the photograph is a visceral reminder of what once was.
St. Martin in the Fields by William Logsdail (1888)
The River Thames with St. Paul’s Cathedral on Lord Mayor’s Day by Canaletto (1746)
Westminster Abbey with a Procession of Knights of the Bath by Canaletto (1749)
View of The Grand Walk by Canaletto (1751)
William Logsdail's "St. Martin in the Fields" shows the disparities of daily life then and now, while Canaletto's "Westminster Abbey with a Procession of Knights of the Bath" (1749) depicts a radically different conception of space and how the architecture of power — in this case, government buildings — inhabit the public realm. In the era shown in the painting, Westminster Palace did not yet exist, and parliament met in Westminster Abbey.
The 9th of November, 1888 by William Logsdail (1890)
The Strand Looking East from Exeter Exchange by Anonymous (1822)
Covent Garden Market by Balthazar Nebot (1737)
This is not the first time Docherty has created a merging of past and present. Other projects have included collages of present-day settings with classic album covers and another featured juxtapositions with photos from World War I. Docherty's series help to reveal the aesthetic flavor and wide-ranging eye of Street View. The image quality underscores the platform's imperfections, while these superimpositions remind us how revolutionary, contemporary, and potentially compelling this medium can be.
via The Guardian. All photos courtesy shystone/Reddit.