Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum have been working with GPS data as artists since 2002. With this background, the Google Earth software, which Google has offered free to consumers since 2005, is of interest to them. In this text ‘Visiting Google Earth’, published in Leonardo Electronic Almanac, vol 21, no 1. 2016, the artists explore the visual and spatial qualities and specific properties of this medium. In particular they focus on the special quality of the space that Google Earth represents, and the resulting duality of the medium: on the one hand a classical objective cartographic medium, on the other hand, a medium where the presentation and development of highly subjective stories is possible. In their work the artists focus on those two features of Google Earth: as both a spatial platform, and a subjective “theater” where stories which have a very personal relationship with reality can be told. The works take the form of animations that can be seen as an investigation into the cinematic possibilities of Google Earth. Within this framework the artists describe some of the experiments they have already carried out, and outline their ambitions for future work.
Download pdf Visiting Google Earth, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, vol 21, no 1.