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Fast Company CoCreate | 09.16.16

Satellite Images Of Data Centers And Military Bases Become Lenticular Works Of Art

Ingrid Burrington

D&S artist-in-residence Ingrid Burrington’s exhibition Reconnaissance was profiled in this piece by Fast Co.Create.

DJ PANGBURN 09.16.16 2:30 PM
To call a virtual globe the god’s-eye view implies a completeness, a totality of vision. But the aerial perspective of Earth, as seen on Google Maps, EarthExplorer, and Marble, is far from complete. Instead, it’s a photographic perspective from various satellites hurtling around the globe, stitched together into a pretty remarkable whole. A collage, if you will.

In the exhibition Reconnaissance, writer and artist Ingrid Burrington explores this patchwork, incomplete god’s-eye view. Her debut show, which opens today at NOME Gallery in Berlin, presents a series of lenticular prints, each showcasing merged photographic instances of grounded infrastructures like data centers, military bases, and downlinks.

As Burrington tells Co.Create, her goal with Reconnaissance is to remind viewers that the now quotidian aerial perspective, normalized by Google, didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was the result of decades of research and development in the fields aerospace and electrical engineering. To that end, Burrington turns the satellite gaze back down at the infrastructure that enabled. Viewers see sites like Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, and Google’s data center in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, amongst other places.

“For me and probably a lot of other people, growing up online meant growing up alongside Google, and more than just about any other company they’ve normalized the aerial perspective as a way of seeing the world by making it something really quotidian,” Burrington says. “Of course NASA and private companies like DigitalGlobe made those images possible, but prior to Google Earth the idea of an ordinary person with internet access being able to casually look at, say, images of a drone base in Djibouti was pretty unthinkable. Now, it’s pretty easy to assume that one has a constant, perfect bird’s-eye view of the world. Which is kind of incredible and really weird.”

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