Accepted Paper:

Re-mediated world: maps, panorama, satellite view and computed images of the world in the digital geodata technology of Google  


Sibylle Künzler (Institut for Popular Cultural Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution discusses the transition from older geodata media to navigation platforms such as Google Earth, Google Maps and Street View.

Paper long abstract:

Maps, panoramas, satellite images and computer generated sceneries visualize spaces, practices of looking and spatial perception and are part of our cultural heritage.

Each of these kinds of visualization has its own history. The panorama for example evolved at the end of the 19th century representing a new technique of seeing.

Today, the digital geodata technology of companies such as Google brings these visualization methods together showing them in a synoptical view. This imagery of the world is part of a digital environment which is in turn embedded in countless references of heterogeneous actors. The geobrowsing practice opens new topological fields.

The transition from a mostly paper-based cartographic and photographic (re-)presentation of space to digital navigation platforms may be discussed as an epistemological shift from a topographical to a topological approach.

How does this re-mediation of the world change the significances of conventional geographic media, of the aesthetic of "world" and of spatial practices?

The "heritage" of this visualization technology reinvigorates the old images, but destroys their logic at the same time. Quoting the example of the panorama again, it can be said that it is still a stretched part of a landscape view, there is still a panoptical claim - however, being surrounded by other geodata images, embedded in long chains of references and with the knowledge from the thousands upon thousands of pictures and clicks, the panorama loses its power as a panopticon. The power of these images lies in their digital form.

Panel P42
The digital re-mediation of cultural heritage