Portfolio
Seam-Ripper, by Aaron MacLachlan

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Statement:
Since 2005, Google Maps has provided a patchwork of satellite images, documenting—in erratic detail—the entire surface of the terrestrial world. Millions of unique vantage points stitched along digital seams create the illusion of a contiguous whole, a map determined to end all maps. When I first noticed the explicit artifice of this medium, I began scouring Google’s simulacrum of the planet for topographical ruptures, glitches, and abstract forms that demonstrate the company’s highly nuanced and often fantastical interpretation of land. I documented these events with screenshots in an inquiry driven as much by formal enchantment as the desire to substantiate the vocabulary of the machine. With eighteen texturally unique levels of zoom on any coordinate on the globe, the compositional possibilities of the archive are effectively limitless.

The images I collect, and the infrastructure of Google Maps in general, have everything to do with memory. As an amorphous assemblage of stills, many more than five years old, its amnesia is arguably as pervasive as its accuracy. Long-demolished high-rises extend toward the eye of the viewer in living color; clouds that dissipated within moments of their capture cast ominous shadows over desert shores. Over the course of this project, I began to observe analogies between Google’s satellite technology and the neural networks that render humans some of the most miraculously specious databases on Earth. The gray areas and torn seams within this world exist as projections of a distinctly human space-time continuum as well as visualizations of the ever-present language barrier between virtual space and meatspace.

Aaron MacLachlan

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