Imagine the most intense wave of terror sweeping over your body the moment you walk out of your home and into a public space, like a shopping mall or grocery store. That’s what life can be life for someone battling agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder that makes a person feel trapped or helpless without a logical reason.
Jacqui Kenny, an amateur photographer based in London, England, knows this feelings all too well. Since she was diagnosed with agoraphobia in 2009, it’s become so debilitating that she struggles to leave the house. Unable to travel, Kenny’s been forced to find alternative ways to experience the world around her, and modern day technology, like good ol’ Google Street View, has become a valuable tool.
The 44-year-old is able to load up renderings of desolate landscapes from Senegal, Western Africa to obscure residential neighbourhoods in Belgorod, Russia, all without having to leave the comforts of her home.
“I’ve always had a vivid imagination and been interested in worlds that are slightly surreal or other-worldly, worlds slightly out of my grasp. Street View gave me the platform to creatively express how I like to see the world,” she explained. “I haven’t been to any of these places in person, so I thought it would be fun to imagine it in this way.”
Kenny started an Instagram account, @streetview.portraits, to document her digital globetrotting experiences. She uploads photos just as any person jet-setting around the world would, and they’re far more than random screenshots. Kenny is selective about her travel snaps and looks for unique situations and scenes. The images she uploads are beautiful and artfully captured, almost as if she were there in real life.
“I always love the small moments that show so much humanity, such as an elderly man walking his little dog… Moments like that make me smile and love the world a little bit more,” she said.
This kind of travel has become a way for Kenny to escape her feelings of isolation. “When I find somewhere I love, I often imagine little movie scenes, with a bit of a Wes Anderson vibe. I like to be transported to another world,” she said.
Some of the stunning spots Kenny has captured include camels in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates:
A trail of dust on a dirt road in Tacna, Peru:
A person walking along a river in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan:
A colourful house, also in Tacna, Peru:
An abandoned vehicle somewhere in Russia:
And a woman walking with her cat along a street in Bulgaria:
It’s incredible to watch technology shape our everyday lives, and even more so for someone who can’t travel, an act that so many of us take for granted. Thanks for making art for the whole world to enjoy, Jacqui!