20 Mar 2018

Review: Overview

Olives, Greece
I bought this coffee-table book after seeing some of the images at the "Despu├ęs del fin del mundo" exhibition in Barcelona. (It's still on, you should go.)

The book comes from a blog/instagram account that's been showing top-down photos of human impacts on the environment for the past few years. The photos are amazing, and they also help you understand, a little better, how varied and massive are our impacts on the planet. (The largest impacts, via climate change, are mostly invisible, which is unhelpful when it comes to motivating people to act on climate change.)

Here is how they explain themselves:
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.

Niagara Falls, US/CA
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.

Sun Lakes, Arizona
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.
Bottom line: I give this book FIVE STARS for its beauty and message. If you don't get the book, then at least browse the site... and think a little of how to reduce our impacts on this beautiful -- and quite useful -- earth.

For all my reviews, go here.

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