No Man’s Land by Belgium-born, Manchester-based photographer and artist Mishka Henner explores the margins of our urban and rural European environment as experienced by what appear to be women soliciting sex in liminal, post-industrial and rural settings, as captured by Google’s Street View cameras.
Sourcing locations from online where men share local knowledge on the whereabouts of sex workers, these areas were then visited online and re-framed using the Street View cameras. The Street View project heralds a new age of street-level cartography, offering a vast visual archive ready to be mined by photographers seeking to make sense of our physical and social environment. Significantly, it combines three key features of our age: the dominance of the car, the accessibility of the internet, and the ubiquity of camera technology.
Challenging the well established aesthetic of pity, these images dispute traditional documentary methods that remain tied to notions of authorship, authenticity and technical craft. Henner frames his work as a reaction to: “a kind of parachute voyeurism soaked in a language of pity that reduces complex international and domestic scenarios into pornographic scenes of destruction and drama. It’s the very oxygen the dumb hegemonic narrative of terror thrives on and I reject it.”
“In exploring the visual technologies at our disposal and how by combining them with certain data sets, an alternative form of documentary, that reveals social and cultural issues arising from current technological experience, our dependance on it, and its consequences, can emerge.”
“The fact the women’s faces are blurred by the software, that they look at the [GSV] car with the same curiosity that we have when looking at them, and that the liminal spaces they occupy are in the countryside or on the edge of our cities – it all has such great symbolism for our time”