When a Place Combines with a Feeling

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.

About the author

Chris Chiappinelli is the editor of Esri’s WhereNext magazine. Through his writing, he explores the intersection of business strategy and location intelligence—and the challenges that keep executives up at night. Prior to joining Esri, Chris managed internal content for PTC, a pioneer in IoT technology, smart products, and augmented reality. Earlier in his career, Chris spent a decade as a journalist covering business and technology news.

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