Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts

Project Advisor 1

Jacqueline Goss

Abstract/Artist's Statement

“We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody could now endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error.” – Nietzsche

To create the virtual landscape of Google Earth and other similar world mapping services, a few things need to happen. First, satellites scan the topography of the earth, converting mountains and valleys and rivers and plains into sets of height data. A section of earth one degree latitude by one degree longitude can contain around 25 megabytes of information. Next, this data is simplified further (based on the internet connection speed of the person viewing it and they amount of earth they are viewing) into a series of polygons that approximate the geometry of the terrain. Finally, satellite images of the earth are stretched onto this model so that they line up with their associated terrain. The result of this process is a representation of the earth that fits within a mathematical framework that we created and can control.

Google Earth gives an order to the infinite complexities of reality and in that way fills the same human need myths and religion. They are all systems to structure and make sense of our experience. None, though, are perfectly accurate representations. Within each are errors, flaws, and glitches that are clearly visible if one choses to look for them. 7 Stories About Mountains is an exploration of these structuring systems and the interactions between them.

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