Clement Valla’s “Postcards from Google Earth”
Clement Valla’s “Postcards from Google Earth” is a collection of surreal and seemingly paradoxical images drawn directly from Google Earth. The series captures bizarre snapshots of moments in which this software’s representations of our planet’s landscapes seem to have missed the mark. Valla explains these anomalies as instances of “competing visual inputs”: the 3D modellings of Earth’s surfaces fail to align with their corresponding aerial photography.
He points out that although these images would appear to be the result of an error in programming, they are, in fact, manifestations of the unique process by which Google Earth visually represents our physical geography:
“The competing visual inputs I had noticed produced some exceptional imagery, and I began to find more and start a collection. At first, I thought they were glitches, or errors in the algorithm, but looking closer, I realized the situation was actually more interesting — these images are not glitches. They are the absolute logical result of the system. 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. They are seams which reveal a new model of seeing and of representing our world - as dynamic, ever-changing data from a myriad of different sources – endlessly combined, constantly updated, creating a seamless illusion.”
For a more extensive exploration of the project, written by Valla himself, read “The Universal Texture,” published through Rhizome.
For an A&SJ post on a similar theme, read Erin Saunders’s post about Mishka Henner’s Dutch Landscapes.
- Melissa Daly-Buajitti