Emerging Technologies

When a Place Combines with a Feeling

By Chris Chiappinelli

The Esri Brief

Trending insights from WhereNext and other leading publications

In an era when geography seems to be an agent of division—when some global alliances are dissolving instead of strengthening—we at WhereNext have a soft spot for the places that unite us.

Which is why this WIRED collection of Kurt Caviezel’s webcam photos caught our attention.

For the past 15 years, from his studio in Zurich, Caviezel has monitored 15,000 publicly accessible webcams located all over the world, taking screen captures as he goes. Gathering the photos into collections, he exposes patterns of human behavior.

“I imagine Caviezel’s process must be something akin to panning for gold or searching for buried treasure on a sandy beach,” one reviewer wrote. “The hit rate for something valuable must be extremely low.”

But find value he does. The result is a stroll through ordinary lives, sometimes in extraordinary places. In WIRED’s collection, visitors to the UK’s Minack Theater stand shoulder to shoulder, the Celtic Sea spread out before them (right). In Poland, ice skaters pause for a photo. Tourists in bright jackets explore a snowy Austrian town.

You can snicker at the selfie sticks; go ahead. But deep within each scene is a reminder of a common urge: to capture a moment in life, in a place we hope will persist in memory long after we’ve moved on.

In a world that seems bent on building walls and cultivating isolation, Caviezel’s work is a reminder of the memories we form when a place combines with a feeling. And, ultimately, of location’s power to bind us together.

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