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Rebuilding Earth as an Art Media Spatial Consciousness and Information Globalization in Google Earth

Moyi Zhang

Art History Professor Gerar Edizel and Elizabeth Dobie May 10, 2009


“Earth materializes, rotating majestically in front of his face. Hiro reaches out and grabs it. He twists it around so he’s looking at Oregon. Tells it to get rid of the clouds, and it does, giving him a crystalline view of the mountains and the seashore.” 1 This is the vision from a science-fiction novel called “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson published in 1992. Today, however, a free software Google Earth makes it totally possible to everyone. Google acquired the company called Keyhole, in 2004 that developed the mapping program called Earth Viewer when it was first released. It was renamed Google Earth later. It makes a person feel omnipotent in the world and able to navigate the world at will. It is a program displays superimposed images provided by satellite, allowing users to visually see the earth resting in space and looking closely to the cities, houses at different angles. Through this access, users are able to gather mapping and geographic information of the address typed into the program. The first attempts at this revolutionary concept utilizing 3D triangulation photography and CAD created a computer-simulated environment which is a mirror world, a hybrid space in between, – a representation of the earth we are living in. “Flying around the world” is my recent piece working with Google Earth. It almost makes one of my biggest dreams to become true through the process of this traveling. I put myself, my body, my vision into this virtual globe, seeing the “earth” consistently from a certain height. The 10h 20mins video starts in Beijing all the way to the west. It is actually a journey without a beginning or an end. It could goes on 1

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, (Random House, Inc., 1992), 267.

3 forever by doing this circle traveling. It also has no stops and destinations along the way. I meet whatever comes to me. Where I am and what I present is not important anymore. The person who is actually seeing it becomes the one who is flying there. The spacious dimension of the vision extends the consciousness from here to elsewhere. Seeing the earth as us, the body is finally abandoned. It allows us to be infinitely large and infinitely small. It mixes fear and a sense of wonder. The geographical environment during the journey is gradually transforming through time. Also, we could see the division between really detailed imagery of the earth and the imagery roughly represented by 3D graphic based on the population of the region. Both of them are photographed in different time and composed together. They are relatively real or not real in comparison with the actual earth. There is no border or territory. The viewer experiences time by traveling through spaces, like the ocean, the desert or even a small town. The emptiness of the space is full of possibilities for every creature. But, at the same time, we have to be aware that we are not seeing the actual earth but a digital representation of the globe. It is an interface of software. The viewer is connected to them by the action of watching and flying. The imagery we perceive is already there. It is already what it is. The user could unlimited access to this space, a space opened up in time. When I compare Google Earth with a map, they are both geographical information system that make me think maps as a part of the history of Google Earth. They are both geographic visualization of an actual space or an environment. A map is a static two-dimensional representation of a space. “It is a selection of concepts from a

4 constantly changing database of geographic information.”2 “A map is much more than a mere reduction, however. If well made, it is a carefully designed instrument for recording, calculating, displaying, analyzing and, in general, understanding the interrelation of things in their spatial relationship. Nevertheless, its most fundamental function is to bring things into view.”3 Mapmaking has been integrated in the story of human history up to 8,000 years. As far as we know, the oldest maps are found on a clay tablets in Babylonian from about 2300 B.C. when the art and science of making maps was considered most advanced in ancient Greece. Spherical Earth has been accepted widely by Greek philosophers and geographers by the time of Aristotle. During Medieval Time, Relegations has dominated the views and concept of maps which called T-O map in Europe. It is a map format put Jerusalem at the center and east on the top of the map. During that time, maps were made and illuminated all by hand. By the time of Renaissance, maps were much more widely used in the virtue of the invention of printing which started at 15th century. At first, carved wooden blocks were being used in printing maps. In 1540, the map made by Sebastian Münster living in Basel (Switzerland) became a new standard for global maps. In the 16 th century, maps were printed with engraved copper plates appeared as the standard maps until the time when photographic techniques were invented. In order to meet the requirements of navigation, maps started to include coastlines, islands, rivers, harbors and mark some of the interest locations for sailing. They also depicted the compass lines and 2

Shiba Prasad Chatterjee, Prithvish Nag, National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation (India), Prof., Geography and applied cartography, (Govt. of India, Dept. of Science & Technology, National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation, 2003), 23. 3 Third Edition, Elements of Cartography, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1969), 2.

5 navigation aids. Later on, the new way of map projections were developed. The globes were also constructed and being used. The whole-world voyages at first by Columbus began to happen followed by the worldwide map’s appearance in the early 16 th century. The first true world map utilized an expanded Ptoemaic projection which credited to Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 first use “America” to name this new land for the world. The leading cartographer of the mid 16 th century called Gerardus Mercator of Flanders (Belgium) published a world map developed cylindrical projection that was pervaded after it. From 17th to 19th centuries, the development of science and geography and the applications of measurement devices dramatically influence the concept of map and make the map being increasingly precise and factual.4 Looking back to the history of maps and cartography. Maps no matter on paper or globe, have stimulated, assisted and recorded man’s endeavors to explore the world. Besides the prime geographical purpose for maps, it is also an essential document for identifying the locations of places in relation to each other. The development of modern map making is a compendium of men’s abilities and experiences, providing vivid records of that period of history. We can see that maps are never the realistic representation of the actual world. Even though maps are easily understood and appreciated by most of the people. The blankness of knowledge could be filled according to men’s imagination and certain assumptions about the world so that they are able to make a whole map. Photogrammetry which used in Google Earth is a remote sensing technique that gather and process data about physical environment 4

James S. Aber, “Brief History of Maps and Cartography”, 2008,

6 without physical contact. Visible information are identified, evaluated, measured and interpreted on the imagery. Even the land cover is produced directly from photographic. The aerial photographs and satellite images still can’t avoid being inaccurate. They can’t portray every portions of the light spectrum, as the light spectrum has to be observed through aerial mapping camera. Also Google Earth is comprised cartography models that consisted estimated values at some locations where measurement and data are not available so that the computer has to extract some main characteristics and process them into a continuous spatial information. From hand making, printed media to globe model and virtual globe, the errors of the media themselves are various. “Maps are abstractions which are also extremely realistic; they picture the world without mirroring it. Maps are an instantly recognizable form of communication…”5 In Jean Baudrillard’s theories of simulation, he says: “Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it…it is the map that precedes the territory…” 6 In another words, I could say that simulation of the map extinguishes “the reality”, the simulation; the representational imaginary of the Earth is not substituted for the “reality” but becomes the reality by itself. The conclusion has been made seems odd to many people because it reflects people’s confusion upon the definition of


Roberta Smith, 4 artists and the map, image/process/data/place, (Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas, 1981), 5. 6 Jean Baudrillard, Simulation, (The MIT press, 1983), 1.

7 “reality”. Does reality has to be perceived by our direct, personal experience? Is our visual experience telling us what is the “true reality”? Grand illusion theory believes that the visual world is all a grand illusion, if we think we have a rich and detailed stream of pictures passing through our consciousness one after the other, we must be wrong. Scientists had made the conclusion that the gaps within the scenes represented internally can be filled by the human brain. As vision scientist Stephen Palmer writes, “We fail to experience any sensory gap at the blind spot.” Canadian psychogist Ronald Rensink argues that the visual system never builds complete and detailed representation of the world at all, not even during fixations. Instead, it builds up representations of single objects, one at a time, as our attention shifts around. Whenever we attend to something, its representation is created and maintained for some time, but when we stop attending it loses its coherence and falls back into a soup of separate features. He explains that the reason we get the impression of a rich visual world is because a new representation can always be made just in time by looking again.7 Psychologist Kevin O’Regan and philosopher Alva Noë goes even further in demolishing our ordinary ideas about visual awareness. They take a fundamentally new approach in which vision is not about building internal representations at all, but is a way of acting in the world. Vision is about mastering the sensory-motor contingencies – that is, knowing how your own actions affect the information you get 7

Susan Blackmore, Consciousness, very short introduction, (Oxford University Press Inc, 2005), 63.

8 back from the world, and interacting with the visual input to exploit the way it changes with eye movements, body movements, blinks, and other actions. In other words, seeing is action. On this view, vision is not about building representations of the world; instead seeing, attending, and acting all become the same thing. On this view, what you see is those aspects of the scene that you are currently ‘visually manipulating’. If you don’t manipulate the world you see nothing. When you stop manipulating some aspect of the world it drops back into nothingness.8 If we believe our perception of “reality” and our whole relation to it are fully real, and virtual extinguishes reality, which is not real, but displays the full qualities of the real, like a reflection in a mirror. Then we have to question that by the theory of grand illusion. Henri Bergson (1896) left us a conception of virtuality more profound than the standard notions we have today. Individual Perception, he stated, is virtual action. Bergson describes “virtual” as the realm of pure memory, a discontinuous collection of images. Our sense of reality is not combined by external perception and instantaneous visions of the real, but, in fact, there is nothing for us that are instantaneous. There is always some work of our memory goes by in our consciousness and prolongs into our perception. It is including endless number of moments and endless time.9 There is not a fundamental division between mediated consciousness by memory or technology. They are equally “real” since reality is nothing but the mediation of 8

Susan Blackmore, Consciousness, very short introduction, (Oxford University Press Inc, 2005), 64.


referenced by Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, (Courier Dover Publications, 2004), 76.

9 images. Our relationship to an image is simultaneously virtual and actual. Gilles Deleuze believes that this dual image is the “nucleus” of reality. When he talks about cinema, he states that: “the actual image and its virtual image which carries everything, and serves as internal limit. We have seen how, on the broader trajectories, perception and recollection, the real and the imaginary, the physical and the mental, or rather their images, continually followed each other, running behind each other and referring back to each other around a point of indiscernibility. ”10 He also discussed movement-image in a way that shows links to the theory of Kevin O’Regan and Alva Noë. The movement-image has two sides. The positions are in space, but the “whole” that changes is in time. “In the movement-image, time is subordinate to movement, as the rhythm of an ordered sequence of shots that follow physical movement.”11 Bergson argues that: “the interval of movement was no longer that in relation to which the movement-image was specified as perception-image, at one end of the interval, as action-image at the other end, and as affection-image between the two, so as to constitute a sensory-motor whole. On the contrary the sensory-motor link was broken, and the interval of movement produced the appearance as such of an image other than the movment-image.” 12 “In the time-image, movement is subordinate to time, as the interval created by non-sequential, discontinuous camera movement, cutting, and splicing becomes the direct presentation of time.”13 Take montage as an example. It “is thus essentially 10

Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, The time-image, (U of Minnesota Press, 1989), 69. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, The time-image, (U of Minnesota Press, 1989), 34. 12 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, The time-image, (U of Minnesota Press, 1989), 34. 13 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, The time-image, (U of Minnesota Press, 1989), 127. 11

10 segmented shots relating to each other under the broad exigencies of narrativity and the order imposed upon narrative by the ideology of the film.“ 14 Montage practice sought not merely to represent the real but, also, to extend the idea of the real to something not yet seen, Montage offers a kaleidoscopic expanded vision which, by collapsing many views into montage replaces the image of a continuous life glimpsed through a window fame-the heritage of the fine arts since the Renaissance-with an image, or set of re-assembled images, that reflect a fast-acted, multifaceted reality seamlessly suited to a synthesis of twentieth century documentary, desire and utopian idealism.”15 “It is montage itself which constitutes the whole, and thus gives us the image of time. It is therefore the principal act of cinema. Time is necessarily before and what is after…Perhaps it is necessary to make what is before and after the film pass inside it in order to get out of the chain of presents.” 16 By this sense, in fact, prior to the presence of media technology, the virtual images had always mediated by human consciousness. Following the new media theory about cinema in understanding digital representation as a remediation or reframing of old media via the computer interface, Google Earth would be an evolution of cinema. Cinema is a media which condense space and movement into time. Space and duration are being shown by a rate of 24 frames per second. It is a sequence of multiplicity of temporality. Immersed in cinematic images as a viewer, subjectivity is something that does not belong to us, but it is time that creates the work of 14

Ron Burnett, Cultures of vision: images, media, and the imaginary, (Indiana University Press, 1995), 123. 15 Matthew Teitelbaum, Montage and Modern Life 1919-1942, (The MIT Press, 1992), 8. 16 David Norman Rodowick , Gilles Deleuze's time machine, (Duke University Press, 1997), 11.

11 consciousness, the sense of subjectivity. Deleuze thinks that the time-image is simulacrum. Time is the spirit of virtuality. For Google Earth, it is a world of geographically referenced information, a visual presentation of already-mediated information, aerial photo, graphic computer diagram and territories and boundaries of the map. It also contains multiple usergenerated multimedia simultaneously as a database. Time is not shown in a fixed sequence of movement in space. The perspective of the visual camera moves according to the decision and action of the user, which allows us to visually see the space as we want. The camera moves, the uploaded information comes and the data being renewed. In cinema, a director or a filmmaker controls the movement, but in Google Earth, movement is controlled by the tendency in a direction of the user and their reaction within the parameters determined by computer interface. Google Earth becomes a cinematic apparatus functioning as a camera without any limitations to access to this kind of panoramic space. In the book called “Virtual reality in geography” by David John Unwin and Peter Fisher, they describe this kind of software like Google Earth as PanoraMap. “PanoraMap adds visualization functionality to the virtual environment by providing an interface through which geometric and attribute data can be loaded, shading area or point symbols according to data values and allowing successive variables to be selected and suitable interactive graphics produced.” 17 The term panorama derived from the Greek, it literally means “see all”. A panorama is continuous circular representation, a wide-angle of a physical space. It has been widely used in painting, 17

David John Unwin, Peter Fisher, Virtual Reality in Geography, (CRC Press, 2002), 82.

12 photography, film and 3D model. It is a pictorial space totalization about all-seeing and all-knowing. One of the most famous Chinese paintings: “Along the River During Ching Ming Festival” (1085-1145) is a good example of Panorama painting. Actually the story would starts at cave art which a static imagery that relied upon the viewing person to animate the spirit or soul in them. The panorama was commonly used in the nineteenth century refers to a circular painting exhibited inside of a rotunda wall, covered by a cupola or cone-shape roof. They usually have to be true life that they could be confused with “reality”. “Having walked along a corridor and up a staircase darkened to make them forget the landmarks of their city, visitors reached a platform surrounded by a ramp to stop them from going too near the canvas, so that it might, ‘from all pats it could be viewed, have its proper effect’ the lighting was natural, emanating from the top, but its source was concealed by a roof or veil that made it impossible to see beyond the upper edge of the canvas, while a fence or other natural objects masked the lower edge. Everything was arranged so that nothing extraneous could encroach upon the display and disturb the spectator’s field of vision. Such was the paradoxical status of the panorama: an enclosed area open to a representation free of all worldly restricitons.” 18 They can also be classified as immersive experiences. It’s also nothing beyond virtual reality. Further, the motion-picture term was originally come from “panorama”. There are usually three themes in panorama. one is express the perceptual and representational fantasies. It reflects men’s desire of having control of sprawling collective space. The second one is emerged into a view of history story such as a war, 18

Bernard Comment, The Painted Panorama, (Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1999), 7.

13 focused on heroes in the military and momentous events. In this case, panorama has been used as a propaganda machine which simulate the movement and narrate a sense of time. The last theme is emerged into a landscape as a trip to historic cities or distant lands which also a theme in travel cinema. The appearance of panorama greatly challenged the tradition idea of landscape painting within a signal frame. After Van Gogh having seen Hendrik Willem Mesdag’s panorama of the beach at Scheveningen which also often painted by himself, he said that: “…the only fault of this canvas is that it doesn’t have one.” No one knows if this is a compliment or a reproach. An article published in the Journal in 1830 criticized: “What we do not want to see in artistic productions is a complete imitation of nature.” However, in fact, panorama is definitely not an imitation of nature. The composition has to be a rediscovering a perfection of balance, rhythm and selection thought to be absent from real nature and organized into a given function or structure in order to present a story, a event or a perfect landscape. Also, as a viewer in panorama, he or she has to complete the work of artist by participation. “It is we who complete his work; it is our imagination that will add movement, that will bring the spark of life to masterpiece of art.” 19 Later, another two kinds of panorama were created, one is diorama developed by Daguerre. It combines the lightings through transparent layers and complementary colors to create a sense of movement. It is such a great attempt to create movement in still imageries. The time and space totally depend on the motion of the viewers. The other one is moving panorama first made in London in 1800. The spectators can watch an unrolled long canvas go through a small window so that the boundaries will 19

Bernard Comment, The Painted Panorama, (Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1999), 97.

14 disappear. It’s like a cinema with a sustained liner timeline carries a liner movement in a fixed landscape. Time and space exist coherently. Actually, there is another kind of panoramic viewpoint could be seen at one glance, it is the Horace-Bénédict de Saussure’s “Circular View of Mountains Seen from the Top of the Buet Glacier” from his Voyages dans les Alpes in 1776. It is a circular representation like sphere planet on the flat paper that could be drawn as an orientation plan and later being called a horizontal panorama. “…must imagine that they are at the centre of the drawing, and with their imagination enlarge on what see from this centre and, turning the drawing, inspect all these parts. In this way, they will see how, one after another, all the objects are linked together and exactly how they appear to the observer who stands at the top of the mountain.”20 Later soon, painted panorama has been displaced by panoramic photography as a very common media to create wide view presentation. In the later 20C, the old image stitching process has been greatly simplified by digital photography. Stitched images even being used in crude virtual reality movies, such as QuickTime VR (QRVR). I think I could find a lot of connections between QTVR Panorama and Google Earth. They are both interactive mapping system, stitching photographs into a 360degree virtual space. Also they are both omni-directional panoramas of the world. The difference is, a QTVR Panorama allows the viewer to look outside, people are inside of the object or the image and surrounded by them. In Google Earth, we are able to keep a distance to the earth and look into something around the object unless we get closer to the top of the surface and immersive into the environment. The way of the 20

Bernard Comment, The Painted Panorama, (Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1999), 82.

15 observation conversed. Man's continuing attempts to make more and more realistic records of the world is not only happening in nowadays. So if we believe virtual reality is totally a new term belongs to modern society, we must be wrong. Cinema is also trying to create a wider space beyond the border of the screen. It starts at the moving camera shots in the early panoramic travel cinema. First, they allowed a broader view of the landscape. Second, the actual movement seems to carry the viewer into the image, as Charles Musser has called the “spectator as passenger convention”. A moving camera creates a sort of stereoscopic illusion as the movement of objects within the visual field provides another depth cue. They created a new way of perception mediated by technology and motion. Wolfgang Schivelbusch is a German scholar of cultural studies calls this new mode of perception “panoramic”. “Panoramic perception, in contrast to traditional perception, no longer belongs to the same space as the perceived objects: the traveler sees the landscape, objects, etc. through the apparatus which moves him through the world.” 21 “Finally, movement is also redefined as that which subordinates the description of space to the functions of thought.”22 Alfred Hitchcock’s premonition will come true: “a camera consciousness … would no longer be defined by the movements it is able to follow or make, but by the mental connections it is able to enter into. And it becomes questioning, responding, objecting, provoking, theorematizing, hypothesizing, experimenting, in accordance with the open list of logical conjunctions (’or,’ ‘therefore,’ ‘if,’ ‘because,’ ‘actually,’ ‘although…’) or in accordance with the functions of thought in a cinema-vérité [cinema of truth] which as Rouch says, means rather truth 21 22

Suren Lalvani , Photography, vision, and the production of modern bodies, (SUNY Press, 1996), 80. David Norman Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s time machine, (Duke University Press, 1997), 83.

16 of cinema.” 23 In the digital environment framed by a computer interface, a purely synthetic time-space mapping cyberspace is subordinate to attention and the commands of the user. The camera seems to grow a brain in the form of seeing from various points of views, and this is what the user manipulates and perceives. It’s not extensions of people’s senses, but of their mind in relation to the senses; it changes our relationship to information in a fundamental way. This is a technology that permits the active use of the body in the search for knowledge within the environment. In the computersimulated environment, the study of mechanisms of body representation in the environment considers body representation not only as a body in the brain but progressively more and more as a body in space, or even a body in action space. 24 As Vivian Sobchack (an American cinema and media theorist and cultural critic) has written, “electronic space constructs objective and superficial equivalents to depth, texture and invested bodily movement”. 25 The digital representation of the environment has opened a new relationship between the body and space. One has to imagine how the body can look if viewed from a given perspective. “The history of art exemplifies a complex set of negotiations between body and space - negotiations between the actual domain of the real body of the viewer and the real space he inhabits and the virtual domain of the represented body and represented spaces. The contemporary body in space is no longer the classical model. Ours is a vertiginous location - suspended upside down (Baselitz), launched into space (Klein), declared as 23

Edward Branigan, Projecting a camera, (CRC Press, 2006), 206. Günther Knoblich, Marc Grosjean, Maggie Shiffrar, Human body perception from the inside out, (Oxford University Press US, 2006), 4. 25 John Thornton Caldwell, Electronic media and technoculture, (Rutgers University Press, 2000), 151. 24

17 obsolete (Stelarc) and now seemingly superhumanly re-embodied in Cyberspace and superhumanly re-united in Netspace. (The Dis-Embodied Re-Embodied Body)” 26 A commonly belief that the technology of virtual reality draws the consciousness out of the body and into an electronic space, yet for me the experience of “virtual body” is just an experience of extending the physical body, not losing or substituting it. Sobchack also writes that the deflated space “presents this new electronic subjectivity and terminal space as nearly ‘absolute’. For most of the film almost everything and everyone have mutated into a simulation, and the category of the ‘real’ (that narrative ‘real world’ mainframing the computer program world is short-circuited and loses power. Simulation seems the only mode and space of being.” 27 She further notes that the film exemplifies Baudrillard’s proclamation the medium no longer exists in its strictest sense, because everywhere there is only immixture. The “actual image” and “virtual image” of some of the locations in Google Earth are always porous. They are being digitally marked, documented and ignored based on multiple purposes of the users. A simulation of the original give us information and data of the “original” contain no inherent spatial properties mapped into a defined spatial framework so that providing striking and powerful images that give people a unique sense of the space and give people a new understanding of the Earth. This is what we mean when we repeat Deleuze’s theory of virtual and actual as “distinct but indiscernible.” Cyberpunk is concerned with “models of social order and disorder, narrative structures based on perception and spatial exploration: and…a mapping of 26

Jeffrey Shaw, Manuela Abel, Anne-Marie Duguet, Heinrich Klotz, Peter Weibel, Jeffrey Shaw: a user's manual, from expanded cinema to virtual reality, (Edition ZKM, 1997), 155. 27 Scott Bukatman, Terminal identity: the virtual subject in postmodern science fiction, (Duke University Press, 1993), 223.

18 compacted, decentered, highly complex urban spaces.� 28 The reason why I am interested in Google Earth is because it is not only simulating the effects of the reality we normally perceive but a further study of reality. It approaches the simulation rather than the abstract referential marking of real space as maps. It is a new form of visual experience and information visualization. This kind of computer vision has changed both the world and human perception of the world. The distance between direct experience and the view framed by the digital interface disappeared. The notion of reality and visuality have been deeply inspired by the technology of the computing device. From my research, there are even more possibilities supported by Google Earth are being explored very recently. First, Ancient Rome has been reconstructed on Google Earth. The model includes more than 6,700 buildings and more than 250 key sites in different languages. "The project is a continuation of five centuries of research by scholars, architects and artists since the Renaissance, who have attempted to restore the ruins of the ancient city with words, maps and images," said Bernard Frischer of the University of Virginia, which worked with Google on the Roman reconstruction. Joel Myers, chief executive of Google Earth said: "Cultural heritage, although based in the past, lives in the present, as it forms our identity. Also, Google finally moves beyond the land to simulate the ocean so that people can drive into the sea and explore its vast surface and depths. Users can swim like a dolphin or follow a path of a whale shark. "Now anyone in just a few minutes can 28

Scott Bukatman, Terminal identity: the virtual subject in postmodern science fiction, (Duke University Press, 1993), 142.

19 understand what it has taken me 50 years to understand, that the ocean really matters, that in fact the world is blue." Said Earle, who has struggled for decades to find a way to connect the public to the ocean. It seeks to inspire the global consciousness of the wholeness of the Earth and develop a systems thinking associate with mind, learning, memory…we have to aware that we are not in individual organisms but also in social systems and ecosystems. "Without geography, you are nowhere." A geographer said. Then I would say, without system thinking or global consciousness, you might not understand who you are. Another feature being released in the new version of Google Earth is historical imagery that allows you to go back in time through decades of satellite images and observe changes to our planet. It creates a new insight and a new depth on this represented world. It is not a single snapshot of the earth surface any more but a rich imagery within the historical context of the place. It is a possible way of time traveling through electronic memory. What is particularly interesting is adding user-generated data into Google Earth. Especially it allows users to use Google SketchUp to build, modify, share 3D models of buildings. Like human artifacts found in Fossil Beds, human artifacts are also found in this digital represented world. They reveal things about human activities around this digital space and become the evidence of our present on this virtual globe. They will be preserved, accumulated, revised and deleted based on the updating changes of the world we are living in. It is a parallel world in the cyberspace. So it is clear that Google Earth is not just a data visualization platform but also a dynamic environment involving interactions and exchanging of information. It is entering into the same

20 territory as Second Life. What if Google Earth takes the next step toward Second Life? Build an alternative 3D universe where you can interact with other people through the Internet by building avatars who represent yourself in that represented world; to recreate of another terrains but not only a mirror world we could live in. Further more, we can watch Google Earth models in our hands now. ARSights, a project by Inglobe Technologies, an Italian company specialized in the development of Virtual and Augmented Reality applications create a way of integrating digital content in physical world. ARSights aims at visualizing Google Earth 3D models using augmented reality technology. It deals with the combination of “real-world� and computer-generated data. The most important characteristic is the way that transforms face-to-screen interaction to the whole environment. Augmented reality is about augmentation of human perception. One important application of augmented reality is for exploring the spatial information systems of urban environments or planetary environments in space. The goal of this research around the issue of human body perception in terms of the technology of virtual reality and the spatial consciousness in conjunction with sense of time within a mapping cyberspace is not only exploring the possibilities of new technology but also having a deeper insight of what is reality and our relationship to it. Further, use the planetary dimension of the earth as an artistic medium and understand the telecommunications revolution to the information globalization of all spheres of human activity would be very helpful for my future works too.


Rebuilding Earth as an Art Media  

Rebuilding Earth as an Art Media

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