Small World After All
When I was younger, I have always dreamt of traveling around the world. However, due to financial strains and uptight asian parents (sorry mom & dad haha), this option has always been off the table. To make up for these lost experiences, I started a new hobby of traveling the world — in google earth.
This post is an open invitation for you to travel with me digitally as an exaggerated attempt to introduce Google Earth as a form of augmented reality. Pixel by pixel, our perception of the world is continually being shaped and reframed by digital imagery. In addition, the introduction of Google Earth has made our world seem even closer and more accessible than ever before. Can digital encounters really replace physical experiences? This collection of imagery consist of places I’ve been, both physically and digitally. Take a guess on where I have really stepped foot in!
Google Earth was released in 2005 and quickly became one of the most remarked upon and contentious internet development. It shrunk the world with its widely accessible aerial views, or the ‘bird’s-eye’ view of earth. Google Earth’s mission is to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. (Dorrain, 2013) And I think it has successfully done just that.
The view from above, or the ‘bird’s-eye’ view, has become so ingrained in our contemporary visual culture that it is now hard to imagine our world without it. It has risen to pre-eminence as a way of seeing, but important questions about its effects and meanings remain unexplored. More powerfully than any other visual modality, this image of ‘everywhere’ supports our idea of a world-view, yet it is one that continues to be transformed as technologies are invented and refined. (Dorrain, 2013)
In addition, Google Earth is also a political map. You can call it the ‘politics of image resolution’. In the vastness of its database, it upholds censorship and depicts it in the resolution of its images. If you travel (on google earth) long enough, you will come to realize that some parts of the world that are highly pixelated. In short, they only map what they want you to see. The next time you travel on google earth, remember that you are seeing it through their lens, not your own. After all, all images are man-made. Just a copy of our reality.
On this note, Google earth has definitely transformed the way I view the world. Its interface greets you with a rotatable globe; like one that you can spin within the palm of your hands. It empowers you and makes you feel as though you have access to the world everywhere and anywhere at anytime. This new lens into our earth emblematizes globalization. It increases our appetite to see more of the world and to be even more so a part of it. It is a small world after all.
All screenshots displayed above are a result of hours of travelling on google earth. They have been highly edited — original street names have been painted over to give the imagery stronger visual impact as travel photography.