eighteen or so
In Isaac Asimov’s short story, “Light Verse,” a maladjusted robot is endeared to its owner for the works of art it creates. It is the robot’s temperament that enables it to create beautiful art.
These are Google Earth screenshots of New York as rendered by Google Earth.
In June of 2012 Google announced its Google Earth product would feature auto-generated buildings from 45 degree aerial photography. By using data from multiple photographs, distances can be measured and points plotted. This is called photogrammetry and it is how the 3D buildings of Google’s NYC are modeled.
From afar, Google’s NYC look as it might from any aerial photograph. Upon closer look, the polygons are noticeably haphazard. Closer still, the faults are more glaring and the city takes on a the look of an awry dreamworld version of the city.
The imperfections are a result from taking away a human “artist’s hand” - which would have the tendency to adjust and correct as it went along - relying instead on a program lacking the compulsion to create a perfect image.
I believe the images produced by this process are very interesting, much more so than the hand-made, polygon-perfect “facade” view that Google Earth implemented some years ago. To me the pixelated blemishes and the occasional bugs provide a better view into what a city like New York is: a living organism, never perfect, always developing.
I started a tumblog called Photogrammetry NYC. I’ve always been fascinated by representations of cities, from my old LEGO block constructions to the Sim City computer games. Naturally, Google Earth’s 3D buildings are something of a lucid dream to navigate. I now study in Brooklyn, New York and I often use Google tools to find directions and keep track of where I have been.
I believe the buildings of Google’s NYC are for the most part auto-generated using something called photogrammetry. As of now it is not perfect; PGNYC is a repository for interesting screens I come across exploring Google’s NYC, such as the Chrysler building missing its spire.
I suppose the day will come when Google’s NYC is a much tidier model, in the meantime I find amusement in my city looking like a broken computer game. Enjoy and uh, follow!
The Chrysler building is pretty from a distance; less so up close.
Also, I kind of adore the terrible graininess you get from taking dim photos with an aging low-end digital camera that’s been dropped more than a few times.
in class assignment
"It’s 40 degrees outside, but the heaps of snow are reluctant to melt. It’s predicted to be over 50 tomorrow, but that probably won’t finish the snowbanks."
"I tried driving through the apartments to get Culver’s burgers for your sister and me a few nights ago, but the road was clogged with turkeys. Then I had to turn around because the road was closed. Yesterday I got on the bike for the first time in many weeks, and went back to see why. The pavement had failed utterly in the thaw.
"I’m a bit surprised you went this long without Lego bricks. I brought my model-train-making tools and supplies after about two weeks at MSU. We will bring a crate with us—just let us know what kind."
Excerpts from my dad’s emails. He says suburban Michigan gives him little inspiration for letter writing. When he does find something to report it’s often telling of the different environment I live in now. Snow banks, Culver’s fast food, turkeys in the road: these are things that we do not have in New York City.
shout out to the horn blower in these Rubens paintings.