Google is showing graffiti artists some love, adding more than 5,000 images of street art to its online database of art. This expansion doubles the number of street art images in the Google Art Project, with the first set of works added last June. "Eighty-five art organizations from 34 countries are sharing pieces," said the company in a blog post. "Ranging from Sweden’s most famous street festival, to water tanks wrapped with art among New York City’s rooftops, to the abandoned walls of Buenos Aires that are a source of inspiration for street artists from all over the world."
the expansion adds audio tours, videos, and gifs
Google says its aim is to "preserve" what is a temporary art form and make the work accessible to people from all around the world. To do so, it's also expanding its multimedia offerings, with its street art hub featuring guided audio tours of notable locations and GIFs of animated work. (Google is referring to these pieces as "GIF-iti." Let's hope that doesn't catch on.) There are videos of artists painting and talking about their work and as a bonus, Google has released a new Street Art watch face for Android Wear smartwatches.
Some of the street art exhibitions in Google's new expansion.
Despite the effort Google is putting into this project, some graffiti artists are still suspicious of the company's motives. "I kind of shy away from being a part of anything that’s corporate because I feel they sort of jump on our talent as artists for their own benefit," LA muralist Willie Herrón III told the LA Times. Herrón, who was asked to contribute his work to the project but declined, added that he was "kind of paranoid" about putting his work into the public domain. "I’m not opposed to what Google’s doing," he said, "but I want to see how it does first, test the grounds, play it safe — and if I like what they do, then I’ll contribute my art work in the future."