Valia Fetisov, Do you recognize those people?

16 – 30.04.2021


Launched in 2007, the Google Street View project was set to photograph every place on the planet and make it available online. While its primary purpose is to document places, the people appearing on those photographs are a byproduct. Like in architectural sketches, people’s silhouettes on the virtual streets are kept only to make streets look livable and show their scale.

A special algorithm is applied to automatically blur faces, license plates, and other sensitive information due to privacy concerns. Still, many attributes can reveal one’s identity besides the face. When looking at the pictures, blurred faces allow us to notice all the other details that characterize a person.

The images presented in this exhibition were gathered by the artist’s written computer script using the publicly available Google Street View imagery from Ebertplatz in Cologne. Depicted people are meant to be anonymized. If you recognize yourself in the picture, you have the right to be removed both from the display here and from Google.


Valia Fetisov is a visual artist from Russia currently working on his Masters in Surveillance Architecture at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany. In his practice he often alters standard algorithms and works with automatic systems in order to bring into view their ambiguous nature, making them take on a threatening, rather than auxiliary form. Fetisov has taken part in exhibitions, such as General Rehearsal at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2018), The Electric Comma at the Palazzo delle Zattere, Venice (2017) and Qidian at the Zendai Zhujiajiao Art Museum in Shanghai (2017).


Kulturamt der Stadt Köln