Posts Tagged ‘photography’
“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available… a new idea, as powerful as any in history, will be let loose”*…
Plato suggested that “man must rise above the Earth —to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” Benjamin Grant and his colleagues at Daily Overview mean to help.
Our project was inspired, and derives its name, from an idea known as the Overview Effect. This term refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. They have the chance to appreciate our home in its entirety, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once. That’s the cognitive shift that we hope to inspire.
From our line of sight on the earth’s surface, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things we’ve constructed, the sheer complexity of the systems we’ve developed, or the devastating impact that we’ve had on our planet. We believe that beholding these forces as they shape our Earth is necessary to make progress in understanding who we are as a species, and what is needed to sustain a safe and healthy planet.
As a result, the Overviews (what we call these images) focus on the the places and moments where human activity—for better or for worse—has shaped the landscape. Each Overview starts with a thought experiment. We consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) to convey that idea.
The mesmerizing flatness seen from this vantage point, the surprising comfort of systematic organization on a massive scale, or the vibrant colors that we capture will hopefully turn your head. However, once we have that attention, we hope you will go beyond the aesthetics, contemplate just exactly what it is that you’re seeing, and consider what that means for our planet…
Tour the Earth from above at Daily Overview.
* astronomer Fred Hoyle
As we put perspective into purposeful practice, we might send insightful birthday greetings to Lewis Mumford; he was born on this date in 1895. A historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and cultural critic, Mumford is probably best remembered for his writings on cities, perhaps especially for his award-winning book The City in History. (See also The City– the extraordinary film that Mumford made with Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke, from an outline by the renowned documentarian Pare Lorentz, with a score by Aaron Copland.)
Mumford’s approaches to technology, its history, and its roles in society were acknowledged influences on writers like Jacques Ellul, Witold Rybczynski, Amory Lovins, E. F. Schumacher, Herbert Marcuse, Thomas Merton, and Marshall McLuhan. In a similar way, he was an inspiration for the organicist and environmentalist movements of today.
Unfortunately, once an economy is geared to expansion, the means rapidly turn into an end and “the going becomes the goal.” Even more unfortunately, the industries that are favored by such expansion must, to maintain their output, be devoted to goods that are readily consumable either by their nature, or because they are so shoddily fabricated that they must soon be replaced. By fashion and build-in obsolescence the economies of machine production, instead of producing leisure and durable wealth, are duly cancelled out by the mandatory consumption on an even larger scale.
- Lewis Mumford, The City in History
Australian photographer T.Q. Lee has thing for food… or at least, for what looks like food…
His series, Inedible, composes a wide– and often revolting– variety of ingredients into appetizing photos of “food.”
Part visual pun, part social comment on convenience food, Inedible is a still life photographic series of meals made from unconventional ingredients. Every element in these dishes are considered inedible in insolation. Together, do they whet or surpress your appetite?
Browse the buffet at Inedible.
* Orson Welles
As we wonder what he’d do with green eggs and ham, we might spare a thought for Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he died on this date in 1991. After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of nascent young readers.
The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)
In the late 60s, record companies took to the streets, using billboards to promote record releases. Photographer Robert Landau was there to document the blitz.
“When I went out to explore the world,” says Landau. “I felt the Strip was like a gallery; there were these hand-painted works of art on the street. … They looked like giant art pieces that kind of represented my generation and the music I listened to.”
“At one time, L.A. just felt a lot funkier. It felt more Western, and … people could come here and do whatever they want. To a degree, that created a lot of chaos, but there was something about that freedom that allowed people to do fun things,” he says. “Things were a little quirkier back then. There was a bit more of a personal feel to the environment.”
* single from The Who’s 1969 album Tommy.
As we celebrate synesthesia, we might send birthday hooks to Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley**; he was born on this date in 1936. A rock pioneer, Holley saw Elvis perform in 1955, and was inspired to create his own sound– a blend of Rockabilly and R&B– that exploded onto the music scene. He was among the first to write, produce, and perform his own songs, and established the “two guitar, bass, and drums” template that became standard for rock.
His career lasted only a year and a half, before he was killed in a plane crash. Still, he was profoundly influential on the future of popular music: an avowed influence on hundreds of acts, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan; and one of the most covered artists of all time.
** Decca Records misspelled his name “Holly” on his first release, and Holley adopted the “stage spelling” for the rest of his career.
Hear Buddy Holley/Holly on Spotify.
Last weekend, tens of thousands made their annual end-of-summer pilgrimage to the beach…
On ground level, these crowds look like tidal waves of coconut-oiled flesh, but as seen in the work of Belgian photographer Antoine Rose, the effect is much different: from above, the crowds that gather on the beaches of New York and Miami take on splendid geometries that make each beachgoer’s place in the sand seem almost methodical.
The project that eventually became Rose’s Up In The Air series started back in 2000, when he was head photographer of the Kiteboarding World Cup. Using a helicopter to film kiteboarders as they raced, Rose became fascinated with aerial photography. But it was only after flying over the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana during a kiteboarding final in Rio that Rose turned his lens from athletes to beachcombers, snapping the herd-like patterns of their oiled hides and colorful beach towels and umbrellas from the air…
The photographer insists he doesn’t coordinate his shots, nor does he alter them after the fact with Photoshop, aside from some standard color correction and post-processing. The beaches appear to us just as Rose saw them leaning out of the side of a helicopter with his camera pointed down.
Read more at “Beach Crowds Are Beautiful From 5,000 Feet In The Air,” and see more of Rose’s remarkable photos at his site.
* Arnold Bennett
As we head for the high ground, we might recall that it was on this date in 1516 that Thomas More sent Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia (or, as we know it today, Utopia), his fictionalized work of political philosophy, to the printer. It was edited by Erasmus, and printed later that year. More, a lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, Renaissance humanist, and councillor to Henry VIII of England, was beheaded by Henry in 1535 for refusing to accept the king as Supreme Head of the newly-established Church of England. More was acting in accordance with his opposition to Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and the Protestant Reformation… for which he was canonized in 1935 by Pope Pius XI. (He is remembered by the Church of England as a “Reformation martyr.”) Utopia wasn’t translated into English until 16 years after his execution.
From Atlas Obscura:
Bioluminescence — the ability for organisms to generate their own light — has evolved independently at least 50 times. All around the world, oceans glow, trees sparkle, and the forest floor flashes. It may be difficult to see many of these phenomena, but take a tour with us and be transported to one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles…
As we go with the glow, we might send carefully-conserved birthday greetings to Gifford Pinchot; he was born on this date in 1865. An American forester, he became the first chief of the Forest Service in 1905. By 1910, with President Theodore Roosevelt’s backing, he built 60 forest reserves covering 56 million acres.into 150 national forests covering 172 million acres. But Roosevelt’s successor, President Taft, no environmentalist, fired Pinchot. Still Pinchot’s efforts earned him the honorific, “the father of conservation.”
* Jame Thurber
Colin O’Brien grew up Colin grew up fifty yards from Hatton Garden in Victoria Dwellings, a tenement at the junction of Faringdon Rd and Clerkenwell Rd – the center of his childhood universe in Clerkenwell, London. In 1948, at the age of 8, he began taking pictures of his world– first with a Brownie box camera, then a Leica.
Since then he has captured over half a million images of a London changing, a London now disappeared.
O’Brien’s work is currently on display at the Hackney Museum. But it is permanently available on his website and at Spitalfield’s Life, where he’s a regular contributor– and more lately, subject (e.g., here and here).
[TotH to Richard Rodriguez for the pointer to Spitalfield's Life]
* Samuel Johnson
As we speculate on the special relationship, we might recall that it was on this date in 1945 that the Vigilantes (AKA, the Secret Committee of Ex-Servicemen) broke into a vacant house in Roundhill Crescent, Brighton, to house a homeless sailor’s wife and her two children– the beginning of a “squatters” movement that grew to an estimated 45,000 over the next few years. Even before the Second World War began there had been an acute housing crisis in Britain. During the war, six years of house building were lost, over 100,000 houses were destroyed by bombing, and many hundreds of thousands more were evacuated because of structural damage. So, when the war ended a massive number of families were left homeless. The Vigilantes first targeted unoccupied properties in coastal resorts, then in other cities, and finally abandoned military facilities. While the official reaction was hardly positive, the squatters were ultimately very successful: the Ministry of Works (a government department formed in wartime to take charge of property for military use) handed over 850 former military camps to those occupying them and many of the London squatters were given alternative housing.
“These people are referred to by the ungraceful term ‘squatters’, and I wish the press would not use this word about respectable citizens whose only desire is to have a home.”
- Clementine Churchill, wife of the ex-Prime Minister, August. 1946