Messing with Google Maps in the Suburbs / Hyperallergic &

Jeroen Nelemans, “Higher Definition”

OAK PARK, Illinois — You’re driving to a suburb that you don’t know well, and you whip out your iPhone to quickly punch an address into Google Maps. In this case, that address is 704 Highland Avenue, home of Sabina Ott and John Paulett, who run Terrain Exhibitions, a once-a-month-ish, home-turned-cozy gallery experience. Every artist who shows work here must wrap it around the concept of the artist-writer couple’s home.

Recreating such a technologically mediated experience informs Jeroen Nelemans’ site-specific installation Higher Definition, on view at Terrain Exhibitions through May 22. For this work, he takes Google Earth, the global, satellite-imagery-centric cousin of Google Maps, quite literally into the living room and front yard of his house in the suburbs of Chicago. The Google Earth-inflected experience of Ott’s home-based, weekend-afternoon-only, suburban home-turned-family-friendly artist-run gallery is three fold. It’s as if Google Street View did actually move into Ott’s living room.

First, Nelemans plays with the idea of looking at the home through Google Earth on a computer monitor by installing a large piece of Plexiglas in the front yard. Google Earth icons and navigation tools are sprinkled on pasted onto the clear material; one stands in front of it and looks through to the other side, which is just the porch of Ms. Ott’s home. This experience mirrors the actual experience of what one might experience looking at 704 Highland Avenue using Google Earth. Nelemans repackages Google Earth as a physical-only incarnation of the virtual technology. This part of the installation is in fact closely aligned with the idea of making the digital ideal an analogue reality.

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