With the help of technology, people are no longer confined to viewing earthbound streets and buildings from eye level only. Satellite images
and mapping services
have made the bird’s-eye view a common vantage point. As we become increasingly accustomed to seeing the world from above, aerial imagery has become a lofty ideal, launching an aesthetic trend that’s anything but down to earth
In an effort to draw attention to climate change, “aerial artist” Mary Edna Fraser
takes a visual approach to environmental action. Fraser turns overhead images of regions affected by environmental degradation—taken from satellites as well as in-flight photos she takes herself—into colorful batiks
. Expanding oceans
, rising sea levels
and the Gulf Oil Spill
are recreated as striking landscapes through layering wax and dye on silk. To ensure that her representations are geographically accurate, Fraser examines maps and charts and also collaborates closely with scientist Orrin H. Pilkey
, whose most recent book
featured her artwork as illustrations.
Rorschach Map App:
Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more novel uses
for Google Maps, programmer James Bridle
has created this nifty app
that transforms satellite imagery into cartographic kaleidoscopes
reminiscent of a Rorschach inkblot test
. Users simply type a location into the bar at the bottom of the page to get a bird’s-eye view of four symmetrical maps placed at each corner of the computer screen. As explained on Bridle’s blog
, Rorschmap isn’t meant to help users find their way to a specific destination, but rather to generate a vibrant, if trippy, look at the world. More than 100,000 people visited Rorschmap during its first week.
Google Earth Rugs:
Oriental rugs are receiving a contemporary update with Munich-based designer David Hanauer’s WorldWide Carpets
, which trade traditional motifs for Google Earth images. Hanauer, who prints satellite snapshots onto polyester floor mats
, favors images of Las Vegas and Los Angeles for the surreal uniformity of the cities’ urban design. Screenshots are arranged into symmetrical quadrants, similar to Rorschmap
, to create abstract aerial tableaux that are hard to identify at first glance. While the settings of the imagery are often unidentifiable, elements of the production process of the rug are left intact. For example, keen observers will notice a Google watermark printed among the pools and houses on some units.