What I was trying to instill, though I didn’t know about it at the time was the Overview Effect.
Back in 2005 I was playing with the idea of building a set of installations and interventions that were meant to trigger feelings and thoughts related to realising that we are all of this one earth. A grand gesture and one that is not an original one in art, philosophy or activism.
Is it worth re-visiting these ideas? As they stood they were little more than a few words in an email client and a few scribbles in notebooks. Today I am much closer to having the skills to realise some of them, though I also hope I have a better set of critical tools to examine why I wanted to build them and asses if they would still stand up to the task in hand.
I have posted them here, together with some feedback that Tom Igoe was kind enough to give me on the original ideas. They are here so that I can point to them in writing about what I do and to point back to my original thinking on certain things when new projects appear that frankly are the same echoes in my head trying to get out.
For a while I had the domain WeAreAllHere.com though none of this ever actually made it onto there.
building a dobson telescope
body, but with a computer in it, displaying Nasa WorldWind or
Celestia. You look into the telescope and see the earth from space,
move the telescope to move the globe, then call in different feeds to
overlay information . political, pop stats. etc. the stuff
Buckminster Fuller went on about looking at as a global system, if we
are to survive.
I like this idea, but there is a problem with it for me spatially. You’re talking about looking from the outside of the globe inward, so a telescope seems to be the wrong metaphor (I don’t know what a dobson telescope is, so tell me if I’m being an idiot here). Really, you want something more globe-like, don’t you? Or better yet, a way to move the telescope around a central point? I think the standard way you use a telescope would confuse people spatially, and have them concentrating on the use of the telescope, not on what they’re viewing.
On the other hand, the Squidlabs demonstrated something that might be up your alley last weekend. It’s basically a tablet computer with an accelerometer and magnetometer on board, so it senses its orientation relative to the earth. It overlays the city you’d be looking at if you looked through the earth. Point it upward, and it points to the star that’s in your field of view. They developed it as a demo of an augmented reality screen, but it occurs to me that it’s a great inteface for what you’re thinking of.
Another model might be a pair of binoculars that can “see” around the planet and through the planet. In both of these models, the direction the person looks is related to the planet they’re standing on. I think that’s important to your plan…]]
building a series of boxes, that when open show
the earth as would be viewed from a specific satellite. The idea being
that these would be very nice wooden boxes, open up and you can see
the screen, possibly in a mirror in the lid, with the earth rendered
by Celestia at that current time, keep it open and watch the earth
I like this idea a lot. particularly if the orientation of the image changes when you move the box. You could make a small enough box with a single board computer or laptop (hell, even a Mac Mini) inside, and an accelerometer and matnetometer to sense the orientation. In fact, this might be the strongest idea of the lot.]]
[This was a project outline written in 2005]
Sign people up to become Sidewalk GeoScopers, take their laptops
out onto the street and show people the world as a system. Taking the
idea of the sidewalk astronomers, but getting people to look at us,
see what is happening elsewhere in the world etc.
[[At the time I shared these ideas with Tom Igoe and he was kind enough to give me some feedback:
That’s neat too. It reminds me a bit of the bluetooth pollution monitors that Ben Hooker et. al. worked on as part of the equator project. Again, here binoculars or magnifying glasses might be good metaphor to work with.]]
Plan for some big interventions (ok, this i want to do in NYC,
cos the UN is there) but do building projections etc of this stuff,
allow people to interact with teh geoscope data via their mobile
phones, as i put it light up the city with the world.
[[Love that idea. You should look at the work of Shimon Attie. His subjects are nothing like yours, but he’s got an aesthetic for building projection that’s fabulous. Wouldn’t it be a blast to be able to project right on the side of the UN building? Imagine it as a magic mirror looking out on the world.]]