Angkor Wat street view


The ruined temple complex of Angkor Wat is another of those places for which I maintain a cult fascination despite never having been there. I’ve posted links to panoramas of Angkor Wat in the past but Google recently added the complex to their Street View catalogue, so you now have the opportunity to see the fabled Nagas in their natural habitat: surrounded by garishly-clad tourists.

A large part of the attraction of places such as this involves the promise of deterioration and isolation, two qualities kept remote by the site’s World Heritage status. I imagine a visit to Angkor would be like the visit I paid to the ruins of Hadrian’s villa outside Rome, the well-tended bones of a formerly splendid construction. Hadrian’s villa is still worth a visit even if you won’t ever see it overgrown by foliage the way it was in Piranesi’s day.




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Gigapixel ArtZoom


This is a few months old but I just discovered my bookmark of the page. The view is a panorama of Seattle but with a difference since this one encourages you to play hunt the artist. The streets are scattered with many of Seattle’s artists and performers, some of them easier to find than others. Michael Cohen, the director of the project explains:

We first sought out the perfect rooftop location from which to shoot such a panorama. We were lucky enough to find the Bay Vista condominium building, and thanks to the gracious owners, get access to amazing 360-degree views that include the Seattle Center, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and Seattle’s stadiums, as well Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and Lake Union. We also discussed the project with John Boylan, who has deep roots in the Seattle art scene. He helped us attract great interest from the arts community to come out and help create this celebration of the arts in Seattle. John introduced us to Elise Ballard, who coordinated the efforts of everyone involved in producing the entire piece. And finally, videographer Kris Crews helped us assemble a team to shoot video footage of the artists and performers from the ground.

Art aside, the panorama is detailed enough to be able explore many of the otherwise hidden details of city life such as rooftop gardens and the mechanical paraphernalia that accumulate on the tops of buildings. Nice view of the Space Needle as well.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The panoramas archive

Vasily Vereshchagin’s temples


Pearl Mosque, Delhi (late 1880s).

I have a recurrent fascination with the paintings of historical and academic artists simply because their work has often been neglected, disdained, and rendered unavailable for so long. When art books and the critics who write them are mainly concerned with following avant-garde trends anyone who doesn’t come up to par is completely ignored, at least until critical fashion begins to change. As I’ve said in the past, one of the positive things about the Web is the way that this imbalance is redressed by the bringing to light of paintings by artists which have been sitting forgotten in museum storerooms for years.

Vasily Vereshchagin (1842–1904) was a Russian war artist whose The Apotheosis of War (1871) is sufficiently symbolic to make it the most reproduced of his pictures. Among his canvases of various campaigns there are several paintings resulting from his travels through central Asia. Wikipedia has recently added to its store of Vereshchagin paintings so I’d not seen any of these before. Many are striking compositions with unusual perspectives, and a photographic attention to light and shade. Some of the details are so accurate, and the shadows so precise, I wonder whether Vereshchagin used a camera to capture a scene which he would have also sketched in colour before painting a finished version later on. Most of the titles and dates of all these works come via Wikipedia and Google Translate so the usual caveats apply.


Main Street in Samarkand, from the height of the citadel in the early morning (1869–1870).


Gur-Emir Mausoleum. Samarkand (1869–1870).

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Canal view


Having followed the development of Google’s Street View from the outset I couldn’t really avoid noting this new addition. The effortlessly photogenic city of Venice deserves the Street View treatment more that most cities, and while Google hasn’t explored every last corner there are enough canals, piazzas and streets photographed to allow some serious derives. If I wasn’t busy at the moment chasing an illustration deadline I’d be spending some time clicking my way around the place.


Piazza San Marco.

The Google blog has more information about the extent of the work and points the way to some less well-known areas. Below you’ll find my directions to a location from Don’t Look Now.


Piazza San Marco.

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Tokyo details


Another enormous gigapixel panorama appeared this week, this one being a view from the Tokyo Tower by Jeffrey Martin. Some cities suit this detailed bird’s-eye view more than others. A similar panorama of Prague wasn’t as interesting for me as the view over London which appeared at the beginning of this year. Tokyo from this vantage may be an endless clutter of concrete and tarmac but it still yields some interesting details.


Tokyo’s Ginza district, and Chuo-dori Avenue, are locatable by these signs.


Further away there’s this cat-and-kitten sign.


While elsewhere Colonel Sanders proves inescapable. The Colonel’s Wikipedia entry contains this, er…nugget:

The Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball league has developed an urban legend of the “Curse of the Colonel”. A statue of Colonel Sanders was thrown into a river and lost during a 1985 fan celebration, and (according to the legend) the “curse” has caused Japan’s Hanshin Tigers to perform poorly since the incident.

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