When the graffiti landmark 5Pointz waswhitewashedlast November, a certain subset of the art community went into mourning. The industrial block on the outskirts of Queenshad become a pilgrimage site for street artists from all over the world. But after a decade,the owner began to demolishthe buildings to make way for luxuryapartments, and painted over the walls before tearing them down. The move highlighted the central dilemmaof street art: artists don't own the walls on which they work.
But Google is taking the best of what it does and the best of what the internet can do to preserve street art and make it accessible.
Launched by Google's Cultural Institutejust last month,The Street Art Project is an expanding catalog of street art images (more than 5000 so far) taken from Google Street View, which launched in 2007. There are several different portals into the collection, including interactive mapsand more than 100curated exhibitions by nearly 30 global partners, including the Global Street Art FoundationandSo Paulo Street Art.
Our favoritefeature is theStreet View experiencethat lets you look around iconic street art spaces, likeTour Paris 13or Sixe and Chu, Canard and Castilloin Buenos Aires ---sites which could be the next to suffer 5Pointz's fate.
And in another gallery, you can turn back the clock on 5Pointz. It's gone, but not forgotten.