Jenny Odell’s Google Map Landscape Photographs

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Interested in landscapes, San Francisco artist Jenny Odell spends quite a bit of time looking at places viewed from above on Google Maps. Searching for industrial forms and shapes that, when combined create an unusual and striking kind of landscape.  Odell then creates digital prints, the likes of which have even been exhibited in the Google Maps headquarters.  Of her work Odell says:

Much of the strangest architecture associated with humanity is infrastructural. We have vast arrays of rusting cylinders, oil rigs dotting wastelands like lonely insects, and jewel-toned, rhomboid ponds of chemical waste. We have gray and terraced landfills, 5-story tall wastewater digester eggs, and striped areas of the desert that look as though they rendered incorrectly until we realize that the lines are made of thousands of solar panels. Massive cooling towers of power plants slope away from dense, unidentifiable networks on the ground and are obscured in their own ominous fog. If there is something unsettling about these structures, it might be that they are deeply, fully human at the same time that they are unrecognizably technological. These mammoth devices unblinkingly process our waste, accept our trash, distribute our electricity. They are our prostheses. They keep us alive and able, for a minute, to forget the precariousness of our existence here and of our total biological dependence on a series of machines, wires, and tubes, humming loudly in some far off place.”

Drawing attention to our dependent, but odd relationship with this infrastructure Odell is also exploring what it has to reveal about our habits, patterns and the elements of our everyday life.  She is also interested in viewing this infrastructure in a way where it takes on the quality of being the remains from a time and civilization gone by.  In other words, her images take on “tragic air: they look already like dinosaurs, like relics of a failed time from the perspective of a time when we will know better—or when we are no longer here.”

Catch Infrastructure, on view at the Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco until March 29th 2014. In April the exhibition will travel to SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine and to NY Media Center in New York. In the summer it will appear at the Futur en Seine festival at the Gaite Lyrique in Paris.

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