Jenny Odell

Posted by Fabio 20 December 2011

San Francisco-based artist Jenny Odell creates collages by Assemble together cut out images from Google Satellite View.

In all of my prints, I collect things that I’ve cut out from Google Satellite View– parking lots, silos, landflls, waste ponds. The view from a satellite is not a human one, nor is it one we were ever really meant to see. But it is precisely from this inhuman point of view that we are able to read our own humanity, in all of its tiny, reliably repetitive marks upon the face of the earth. From this view, the lines that make up basketball courts and the scattered blue rectangles of swimming pools become like hieroglyphs that read: people were here.

At the same time, like any photograph, satellite imagery is also immediately an image of the past. That is, to look at satellite imagery is to look not only down upon ourselves but back in time, even if only by a matter of hours or days. In recording the moment at which things as bizarre as water parks and racetracks covered the earth, the photograph also implies that moment’s own passing, encoding each tiny structure with vulnerability and pre-emptive nostagia. My desire to collect these pieces stems not only from the fascination of any collector but from a wish to save these low-resolution, sporadically-updated pixels–these strange pictures of ourselves–from time and the ephemerality of the internet.