James Bridle is always up to something. Whether he’s drawing pictures of drone shadows or mapping out cities with balloons, the self-described writer, artist and publisher seems fascinated with the intersection of politics and geography. His latest project is no exception.
The basic idea behind #Rorschcam NYC is simple. Bridle simply tapped into the city’s traffic surveillance cameras through the Department of Transportation and applied a filter that mirrors the image on both axes. (He did the same thing with satellite images in his related Rorschmap project.) The effect is something akin to a Rorschach test, except it’s urban, full of taxi cabs, and trippy as hell. It’s hard to tell exactly what you’re looking at. Sure, it’s New York City, and that’s a guy on a bike and a bus full of tourists. But everything is upside-down and backwards all at the same time!
6th Ave and 58th Street (Manhattan)
But what does it mean? Well, the idea of turning surveillance cameras into art is inherently interesting, at the very least, because it makes you think about how, where, and why you’re being watched. Meanwhile, the Rorschach effect does a good job of distorting your sense of place. Oddly enough, turning an image of a city block into reflective quadrants actually destroys the grid’s right angles, so that every image looks like you’re standing in the middle of a traffic circle and peering down the avenues. It’s a powerful point of view.
Atlantic Ave and Vanderbilt Ave (Brooklyn)
Check it out for yourself. Bridle has a few dozen cameras from all over the city that you can choose from and watch in real time. Not all of them work, and not all of the addresses seem to point to the correct image, so don’t be scared if the one you click doesn’t load or it looks funny. Just click another one, and let the trip begin. [Rorschmap]
Broadway and Chambers St (Manhattan)