Clement Valla Finds The Uncanny Landscapes In Google Earth

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If you’ve spent any time looking at Google Earth, you’ll notice that the photography isn’t always perfect; sometimes things appear a little weird. Brooklyn-based artist Clement Valla looks for these oddities, scouring the site and viewing places from different vantage points. At certain angles, highways appear as if they’re melting, dipping into ravines and rivers. It’s trippy. He collects these images and calls them Postcards From Google Earth.

These scenes aren’t the result of glitches or of errors in the algorithm, but are the logical result of the system. Valla explains, “They are an edge condition—an anomaly within the system, a nonstandard, an outlier, even, but not an error. These jarring moments expose how Google Earth works, focusing our attention on the software.” 3D images like we see here are generated through texture mapping, where the flat satellite image of earth is applied over 3D terrain. Most of the time this is seamless, but sometimes, when the spaces are so different, things look wrong. Valla goes on to remark:

Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation. These uncanny images focus our attention on that process itself, and the network of algorithms, computers, storage systems, automated cameras, maps, pilots, engineers, photographers, surveyors and map-makers that generate them. (Via Amusing Planet)

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Aerial Photographs Show How Humans Alter Natural Landscapes

s03_00000025 “Circular layouts of homes near I-75, southwest of Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)”s19_00000002
“Canals and homes in Charlotte Park, south of Port Charlotte, Florida. MapStreet View.(© Google)s01_00000022“A section of a partially built residential project with only two houses in place, near Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)”s07_00000027“A densely built gated community in Bonita Springs, Florida. MapStreet View. (© Google)”

In reaction to a story by NPR’s Planet Money team about the financial collapse and its effect on Southwest Florida housing market, the The Big Picture photography column at Boston.com spent some time scouring Google Earth to document exactly how man-made structures and development planning has altered the land, coast and the way we cover that natural beauty we desire so much.

The resulting pictures show, in stunning simplicity, just how alien the natural landscape of Florida (or most of the Earth for that matter) has become. Ranging from densely-packed communities to barely finishing plotting, the photographs show the natural beauty of the land being lost, and mostly replaced by poorly-planned, short-term solution living situations. They also simultaneously insinuate humanity conquering nature like a plague of locusts, as well as demonstrate our efforts being over-run by nature, like every civilization of the past. (via boston.com)

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