Apr 17, 2013

When Google Earth Goes Awry

 

Clement Valla is an artist, programmer and designer living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BA from Columbia and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design where he is currently an associate professor of Graphic Design.

In his ongoing series entitled, Postcards from Google Earth, Valla discovers and collects ‘anomalies’ within the Google Earth system. On his website he states:

“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 reveal a new model of representation: not through indexical photographs but through automated data collection from a myriad of different sources constantly updated and endlessly combined to create a seamless illusion; 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.”
Clement Valla

 

Below you will find a small sample of Clement’s collection. You can see all 98 and counting on Postcards from Google Earth. Scattered amongst the images you will also find snippets from Valla’s essay, ‘The Universal Texture’, at Rhizome.org. Be sure to check out the article for the full transcript.

[via frankiesgun]

 

1. Bronx, New York, USA

bronx new york google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

2.

catskills_google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

3. Los Angeles, California, USA

los angeles google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

4. Niagara Falls

niagra-falls google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

5. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

golden gate bridge google earth glitches errors clement valla (2)

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

“3D Images like those in Google Earth are generated through a process called texture mapping. Texture mapping is a technology developed by Ed Catmull in the 1970’s. In 3D modeling, a texture map is a flat image that gets applied to the surface of a 3D model, like a label on a can or a bottle of soda.” – Clement Valla @ rhizome.org

 

6. Switzerland

switzerland-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

7. Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Arizona/Nevada

pat-tilman-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

pittsburgh google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

9. George Washington Bridge, New York/New Jersey

gw2-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

10. Rome, Italy

rome_google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

The Universal Texture is a Google patent for mapping textures onto a 3D model of the entire globe. At its core the Universal Texture is just an optimal way to generate a texture map of the earth. As its name implies, the Universal Texture promises a god-like (or drone-like) uninterrupted navigation of our planet — not a tiled series of discrete maps, but a flowing and fluid experience.” – Clement Valla @ rhizome.org

 

11. Kansas, USA

kansas-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

12.

whirlpool-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

13. Colorado, USA

colorado_google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

14. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

pittsburg_google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

15. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

golden gate bridge google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

“The Universal Texture and its attendant database algorithms are trained on a few basic qualitative traits – no clouds, high contrast, shallow depth, daylight photos.” – Clement Valla @ rhizome.org

 

16.

ch-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

17. Los Angeles, California, USA

los-angeles-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

18. Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona, USA

powell-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

19. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

pittsburgh-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

20. Bronx, New York, USA

bronx google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

“It is precisely because humans did not directly create these images that they are so fascinating. They are created by an algorithm that finds nothing wrong in these moments. They are less a creation, than a kind of fact – a representation of the laws of the Universal Texture. As a collection the anomalies are a weird natural history of Google Earth’s software. They are strange new typologies, representative of a particular digital process… In these anomalies we understand there are competing inputs, competing data sources and discrepancy in the data. The world is not so fluid after all.” – Clement Valla @ rhizome.org

 

21. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

pittsburgh pa google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

22.

cornell-google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

23. Los Angeles, California, USA

la_google earth glitches errors clement valla

Imaging by Google Earth | Found by Clement Valla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, the Sifter
highly recommends:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin ItEmail this

Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,039 other followers

Like Us on Facebook?

Close: I already like TwistedSifter