Situations Presentation

Situations Presentation – Dominic Fee


My situations proposal is to locate my art in the computer application Google Earth.

Google Earth is a very common program that everybody with a computer has access to and many people are already familiar with. It already features powerful tools that allow users to generate and upload their own content. For example, people can already model public buildings and monuments, and post information on it about their businesses etc. So why not use it as a forum for art?

The building where our studios are exists in 3d in Google Earth, somebody has gone to the trouble of modelling it in a program called Google Sketchup, and uploaded it. It was then approved by Google and they have now added it to the 3d buildings view of Google Earth, where it can be seen by anybody. Since this same software can be used to make any kind of 3d form, as well as upload 2d imagery, I decided to use it to model some artworks of my own, and locate them in the virtual world of Google Earth. Since the Fas building is a less than stunning work of architecture, and since I get to go anywhere on the planet, I decided to work on the grounds of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The architecture and public works in this region are heavily influenced by traditional Arabic geometry, which has also influenced the design of my own work in the past, so it would make for a good context.

I commissioned myself to design a large monumental work to be positioned in the water at the front of the building, and would be installed in front of the huge fountains which are located there. I also added some other works closer to the Burj, and a small pavilion for wall-mounted work.

As well as being a useful way to model proposed or existing artworks, I see this as potentially being a valid medium in its own right. Art, in one sense, is simply information which can exist and be propogated in many forms. Google Earth could provide an excellent location for this to happen.

It is exciting that a software-rendered artwork, which may or may not represent something which exists physically, could be located in a computer program which is itself a virtual map of our physical planet, and it can be located in a geographical context of relevance to the work.

The footage I showed can only be viewed as a preview on my own computer, and can’t be actually uploaded to Google Earth for others to view. There is a policy of only allowing users to upload content which physically exists in the world (e.g. Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.) In order for this to be able to happen I suggest a plugin that could be installed in the program which when enabled would allow users to select icons appearing in the map where artists have placed works. When the user selects the artist’s icon the artwork would then appear in the program, and the viewer could explore the content.

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