Travelling To A Fictional Place Isn’t As Hard As You May First Imagine

As part of their final year project, Central Saint Martins Graphic Design students, Jurate Gacionyte and Georgia Cranstoun, created a fictional journey rooted in factual photographs they found through Google’s Random Street View generator. They called the project, Nowhere In Particular, a name which alludes to the idea of aimless travel but also the anonymity of places when seen – in stagnant form – through a computer screen.




The project originated as a performative lecture, “we had to design and deliver [it] on a subject of our choice and then publish it’, Jurate, one half of the design duo explained when we caught up with them after seeing their work at the CSM final year show, “but it later developed into a much broader project, beyond where the original brief ended”. The original lecture was presented as a real slideshow from a road trip the pair had taken and explored the way technology is changing travel. On their ‘road trip’ they would stop whenever something took their interest and assumed the role of tourist photographer, they were perhaps more in control than one might first imagine, they could angle the view, zoom in or out and move from side-to-side in order to assert creative command. This further elaborates on the idea that we can build up an illusion of a place before ever visiting it, we can get a supposed feel for the atmosphere, we can walk the streets without ever stepping foot on them. We can, in effect, fool the world. This idea of atmosphere and capturing the true identity of place is something that played a large part in the lecture and in the continuation of the project, named, Nowhere in Particular (Part 2).


This second part of the project is posed as an answer to the question, what if a physical place had the features imposed on it by the current digital navigation tools? Jurate and Georgia built up a landscape, a history and a collection of artefacts that described their imagined destination within the boundaries of the digital. From signage to posters, the theme of digital vs analogue runs through the entire collection and allows us to build on our own visions of this fictional place – though, again, this line is blurred as it is built out of very real yet nondescript places and so seems to lurk in the liminal. This is the case for much of our digital existence – it is not physical and it is heavily tampered with yet it can impact upon our reality, our decisions and our understanding of the world around us.


We caught up with the freshly graduated pair to chat travel, google and all things ‘future’.

The Plus: How did you come up with Nowhere in Particular?
We were interested in travelling and travel documentation. We got obsessed with a website called Random Street View, where every time you refresh it takes you to a different place in the world on Google Street View. We spent a lot of time on it and noticed how often, while travelling like this, a lot of the places looked similar to each other, like they could be anywhere. Also, on this website, we didn’t have a destination, we were clicking away, we were going nowhere in particular. That’s where the name came from. We collected images from Random Street View and made them into old fashioned slides, then showed them through an analogue slide projector to an audience, passing them off as a documentation of a real road trip.


TP: How did you choose which google images to use?
It worked in quite the same way as when taking photographs. If something caught our attention, we would stop in the middle of our trip and capture it. It were the images of scenes that we would photograph out there in the world on an actual road or street. Sometimes it would be nothing that special, an appealing composition, combination of colours, shapes, sometimes something weird, sometimes something unexpected, always something that we found interesting.

G: In the end, we acted as a photographer. We wanted the experience to be for the viewer, as if we had actually taken the photographs. So in a way, because we set up the shot, stopped in particular places, angled the camera and zoomed in and out, we are the photographers. This brings up another issue of authenticity and surveillance that we found interesting in Google Street View and websites like this in general.


TP: What does the term, ‘nowhere in particular’, mean to you?
Eventually, as it became this fictional place for us, on one hand, it came to mean a utopia (which literally means no-place). A utopia proposed by technology (Google Street View) – an efficient and comfortable way of travelling, which allows one to see anywhere in world in no time. On the other hand, it became a sort of dystopia, as we tried to imagine how Google Street View characteristics would apply to a real physical place: where people don’t have faces, seasons change sporadically, it is mostly always daytime, everyone is being tracked, one can’t use the full ability of the 5 senses, etc.


TP: What are the various components of the project? (slides, book, lecture, box for slides – did you make this? – etc)
Performative lecture with slides showed through an analogue projector. A photobook with the images that were showed and the transcript of the story told during the lecture.

Box for slides.

Artefacts (signage, flag, posters) from the fictional Nowhere in Particular. We wanted to give Nowhere in Particular as much heraldry as possible through these objects, as well as giving it an identity or personality.

A small booklet explaining how this place operates. Another bigger book about the whole project.

All objects made by us.


TP: Sum up Nowhere in Particular as a place in three words.
Analogue vs digital.

TP: Sum up Nowhere in Particular as a project in three words.
Perhaps it could be summed up in three pairs of opposing terms: utopia–dystopia, analogue–digital, fiction–reality.


TP: Do you think the digital evolution has had a positive impact on travel?
I think it has been both positive and negative. Having access to information is a positive, a really exciting thing. But at the same time, at the cost of speed and efficiency, we lose touch and a deeper, genuine understanding of place. I’ve certainly noticed that on myself, when using digital navigation tools while out and about, whether I really need it or not.

G: I feel that there are positives and negatives in relation to travel and technology. I think because of efficiency and ease of information, sometimes we miss things or don’t fully immerse ourselves in a place. If you travel and have a phone, you can take thousands of images with a click of a button, that’s why in the end we showed the google street view images on a data projector, because we wanted it to be a slow process as opposed to the readily available technology of today.


TP: What lead you to want to study Graphic Design?
I’ve always been drawn to creative fields and found that it’s easier for me to express things visually. My parents must have influenced me too, they are both into making things.

G: For me, it’s an excellent and easy form of expression; it’s something I can spend a lot of time on and never get sick of. I always want to learn new things within the subject area.


TP: What’s the plan for after you graduate?
At the moment the plan is to continue to find out what I am, and where exactly I belong, as a designer. As art school has taught me, I want to keep experimenting. At the moment I am into areas of publishing, identity, exhibition design, at the intersection of culture and commerce. I also want to keep doing self-led projects and collaborating with other people. For the time being, I am keeping an eye and options open for work both here in London and abroad.

G: I’m from Australia, but am very lucky that I have a job at a graphic design studio here in London, so will stay here for a while. I think London is so great for the creative fields, so I’m really happy to be here. I would also really love to keep on doing self-funded, self-initiated work because I think that’s really important.


Nowhere In Particular (Part 2)