The Kissing Project is on Google Street View!

The Kissing Project is on Google Street View!
Vancouver artist, Sylvia Grace Borda, in partnership with Nelson area residents have worked together to create the first staged net artworks in the Columbia Basin area to reside in Google Street view.


Borda is known for her pioneering work to create unconventional photographic staging and to produce the first ever global artworks in Google Street View in 2013. For her iteration in Nelson, the artist has invited participates to be caught in a staged kiss for the camera. The resultant images exist in 360 allowing the public to navigate around her subjects and to see her various framed compositions.


Sylvia Grace Borda as artist in residence at the Oxygen Art Centre developed her ‘Kissing Project’ to reside in Google Street View. The artist’s proposal is not what you would expect – she has aimed to create contemporary artworks, celebrating local and cultural values of love and peace, while also capturing a portrait of Nelson residents caught in an embrace for a kiss.


The idea for the project came about through her interest in a 1950s photograph of a Doukhobor couple kissing held in the archives of the Touchstones: Museum of Art and History. The photograph shows the moment of a kiss between a then unknown Doukhobor woman and man. This archival image won the artist’s immediate admiration for both the treatment of the subjects and its compositional arrangement.  The artist believes that the image of the Doukhobor kissing couple is particularly iconic and deserves national recognition as does Nelson’s own culture of openness.  The resulting project has been inspired by all of these intersections, and in the artist’s desire to bring forth in her work a similar message of affection and affinity among the people who call Nelson home.


The artist invited the public to nominate kissing partners, places, and to create visual narratives that could be shared with wider audiences as contemporary artworks. The task of photographing the couples happened at locations chosen by the couples ranging from Lakeside park to Kootenay Co-op Radio, to name a few.


Borda had each of her kissing participants stand motionless in order to be captured by a panosphere camera. In this way, Borda has cleverly reverse engineered photographic practices in which the slow shutter and film speeds of early photography resulted in studio sitters being propped up for 3 minutes in order for a portrait image to be recorded. The artist has staged her subject so they become 3-dimensional portrait sitters caught by the camera through multiple viewpoints in both time and space.


Borda’s choreographed scenes illustrate how Google Street view has fundamentally expanded the visual landscape and changed the notion of  public space. Her artwork equally becomes both a distributed form of collectivity, and a record of new visuality. Borda’s work pushes the boundaries of what constitutes contemporary art in an public expanded public space while also demonstrating how social connectedness can create a highly visual and hybrid commons celebrating space, time, and the tableau vivant.


A selection of 360 Street View enabled artworks including quotes from the participants can be seen experienced through the following links:

Holly and John Strilaeff by the Courthouse (2017)


I was interested in participating in the project, since April 7th (the day of the shoot) was my 38th wedding anniversary. My husband and I hope to be the new Doukhobor couple in relation to the Touchstone archive image. Our image has been shot in the very location of the Touchstone image and with this image we hope to share our love with others.


Syl Klein and Jordan Bonin, Lakeside Park (2017)

We hoped to be portrayed at dock’s end in order to illustrate our two cultural paths coming together. I’m from France and Jordan is from Canada.


Kyle Beres with Shadow, Lakeside Park (2017)

This is one of Shadow’s favourite places to go for a walk, and it was also in this very location that my fiancé and I decided that Nelson was home.


Jane Merks and Peter Bartl, 302 Vernon Street, Nelson (2017)


Peter’s writing a book on Modernist Nelson architecture and we have come to appreciate so many of the diverse dwellings in the city. The one we have been photographed in front is a favourite since it has an amazing view of the lake and the street below.


Margaret, Terrace Apartments, 302 Vernon Street, 2017

Sometimes love goes beyond the page….


River Meyer with her daughter Lia, Lions Park (2017)

My daughter and I have a pretty special relationship, starting on the day I first met her in China. I try to kiss her as much as I can.


Evan Forst and Soleil Babcock, Gyro Park

This location is very special to us because, when we were on our first date a couple years ago, we went for a long walk and cuddled up on this bench. It was kind of the first time I realized how much I really loved the guy 🙂 Thank you so much for doing this project! It’s a great way to spread some love and good vibes around our community.


Laurie Carr with her daughter and son, Herridge Lane (2017)


The staircases are a iconic reminder that we live on a mountain. These stairs used to be insurmountable when the kids were small and now they can run up them! Time flies with each step.



Sylvia Grace Borda is a practicing media artist with interests in the development and promotion of Canadian photographic history and visual arts. She has taught at the University of British Columbia and at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her practice has also brought her international opportunities, including Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Stirling in Scotland. She has been granted several awards for her exhibition work that is shaping and challenging contemporary photographic expression. More about the artist can be found at

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