Global Positioning Systems

looking down on satellite imagery.

The Glue Society, Parting the Red Sea, from God’s Eye View.

In God’s Eye View, The Glue Society portrays four biblical scenes as if they had been captured by a surveillance satellite. By contrast, the Art Beyond Our Vision (ABOV) website features artists who turn satellite photographs into works of abstract art. One group of artists takes the impossibly fantastical and makes it seem real, while the other takes representations that we perceive as real, if banal, and makes them seem uncannily fantastical.

Stuart Black, Southern Zagros Mountains, Western Iran.

In the end, though, these seemingly opposite approaches to satellite imagery wind up in the same place: they ask us to gaze on the strange questions raised by photography in general, and by the peculiar nature of the satellite image in particular. Does satellite imagery constitute a kind of god power of surveillance, an overwhelming, panoptic display of authority, or is the satellite photograph actually an empowering tool for the creative, free imagination of the individual? What counts as visual evidence of truth, and what should make us blink twice? Who is doing the spying here, and who is evading view?

What do we see, exactly, when we look down on ourselves?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *