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Off-Trail

Glitching Landscapes and Digital Natures

 

Besides urban exploration, Google Streetview also provides virtual hiking trails through nature. People are encouraged by Google to explore faraway landscapes from their couch at home. Stitched 360° photography makes it a near true-to-life experience.


During the COVID-19 lockdown I had an urge to see some of the world beyond my living room. While I was virtually tracking through the Grand Canyon, the Scottish Highlands and Mount Everest, I noticed I was only allowed to move along the given paths. I can go forwards and backwards, but not to the side. As if I am moving on a track.


However, on my computer I can disobey these rigid paths and go off-trail. When I do this, the stitching software starts to glitch, forming new landscapes and materials. These geologic formations are neither natural nor human made. They are not really mistakes, but they are also not intended. They are inherent to the software. Wild structures generated due to my insubordination of Google's natural laws.

By defying the digital paths, the glitching landscapes shift our focus away from the pretty pictures onto the software underneath. By going off-trail we can observe and play with its mechanisms. This is perhaps what exploring in a digital world is about.

I screen-recorded my virtual journeys and created a series of stills out of them. Click on the stills to discover the glitching landscapes yourself!




 

Lode Dijkers (1999) is a Dutch cross-disciplinary artist based in Rotterdam. Drawing from his own experiences with mental health, he researches this topic in relation to the internet. Viewing the internet as an ever-growing space where people experience life, he investigates how different online processes affect people.

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