Transcending The Common Perception Of Our Planet
If an image tells a thousands words an Overview reveals a thousand stories. The images talk about a world which stands above borders, politics and race to challenge how we perceive our planet.
Inspired by the abstract expressionist compositions of Rothko & Mondrian amongst others the images play between the abstract and the real.
From images of energy centres in the USA to Port centres in China and Mexico City’s 21.2 million metropolis our in-evitable connection to nature is portrayed begging us to question the consequences of our actions.
What defines the way you choose to frame an image?
Because the world, when viewed from above, basically becomes two-dimensional, I think the most important consideration for an image is what is seen on the exterior of the frame. I think it’s essential to thoughtfully compose each image – taking into consideration notions of balance, symmetry, color – and also, if possible, to provide the viewer with something in the image that gives them a sense of scale. If I can frame an Overview effectively, I will be able to get the viewer to notice what I want them to see, and get a better understanding of the impact we are having on our planet.
You talk about the images as a means to prompt the viewer’s thoughts on the planet, where do you see this project developing?
After nearly four years of focusing on human impact, I think it is now necessary to more consistently introduce the element of timeliness and change into what we show. There is something special about the Overview perspective that enables greater awareness, an ability to observe change, to grasp scale. Additionally, we believe this imagery has the potential to sit above things which typically divide us on the ground: politics, race, and the borders of our countries. Therefore, we want to use the inherent power in aerial views to lend an objective, and beautiful, perspective to what is happening in the world.
Where do you see the strength of the images you publish?
In addition to the answer above, I think there is something rather abstract about our Overviews, at least on the surface. By composing each image as thoughtfully as possible, and often like my favorite abstract expressionist painters (Mondrian, Rothko, Kelly, etc.) , we are able to pull the viewer in on a deeper, emotional level. However, once they get the context of what they are seeing and recognize that these images are indeed real, not abstract, I think that forces their brain to flip over on itself and the work – and what is being shown – becomes more profound.
Your work has been exhibited in museums as well as featured in numerous publications,and of-course your famous Instagram, to what extent and how does the medium through which the images is presented effect the way it is perceived and read?
I think we very seriously consider where our work is being shown before we make decisions about the content, the composition, and the scale. On the whole, I believe that these images are most effective if they can be shown as large as possible without compromising resolution. That has led us to consider and execute a number of large-scale exhibitions. Regardless, we think it is absolutely essential to provide the viewer with the information and context for what they are seeing so that the project maintains its informative, educational angle – no matter the medium or size for showing an image.
How instrumental was Instagram in developing the project? What is your take on this social medium for the contemporary creative?
I think Instagram has been an essential tool to not only distribute our content, but also one that helped to crystallize the format of the project and the cadence with which we created more. The name Daily Overview meant we would post one image per day – never an overwhelming amount and something that could become expected. I also think it’s meaningful that the project took hold on Instagram where many profiles are often focused on the “Self(ie)” or celebrity. What we’re most proud of is that the account is focused on the collective, not on individuals, and we think this is definitely not the norm for the Instagram platform.
If you could speculate, how will the development of satellites effect the resolution and images of these in the next coming years?
Based on everything we have seen, the amount of satellites and their resolution will greatly improve in the coming years. While others may be uncertain about these developments over concerns of privacy and surveillance, we can’t help but view this as an exciting opportunity to continue to provide new perspectives and offer more clarity about what is happening on the planet.
What is your favourite ‘shot’ and why?
It’s too difficult for me to pick just one shot but I will say that my favorite Overviews are the ones that get people to ask “What is that???”. To me that signifies that their mind is open and they are genuinely curious about what they are seeing. This is an opportunity to educate someone about what we are doing to the planet. I also think it’s fascinating to consider how the scale of an Overview can make the composition particularly abstract in nature, and this feeling of unfamiliarity can mesmerize someone so much that they are excited to learn something new about our species, and our planet.
”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 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.”