Postcards from Google Earth is a series of screenshots artist Clement Valla took from Google Earth. These uncanny landscapes document technical anomalies in the software, which uses a technology called texture mapping. Like patterned wrapping paper covering a plain white box, a texture map is a flat image applied to a 3D model, thereby adding detail, color and surface texture. In the case of Google Earth, flat images taken by satellite are pasted on a 3D model of the globe. This massive collage of satellite images from various sources is stitched together (favoring daylight images with no clouds) to create the illusion of continuity.
The Brooklyn-based Valla writes:
"These jarring moments expose how Google Earth works, focusing our attention on the software. They reveal a new model of representation: not through indexical photographs but through automated data collection from a myriad of different sources constantly updated and endlessly combined to create a seamless illusion; Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation. These uncanny images focus our attention on that process itself, and the network of algorithms, computers, storage systems, automated cameras, maps, pilots, engineers, photographers, surveyors and map-makers that generate them."