The Bible According to Google Earth
December 11, 2007 5:12 AM   Subscribe

The Bible According to Google Earth A new artwork imagines four scenes from the Bible as if captured by Google Earth
posted by alexanderj (35 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 

Interesting idea. I can't help feeling that these pictures will somehow turn into "proof" in some nightmare fundamentalist post-apocalyptic religious world following the collapse of secular civilization. Probably just me though.
posted by Acey at 5:20 AM on December 11, 2007


I like the crucifixion one.
posted by empath at 5:20 AM on December 11, 2007


acey, pfft.. expect it next week.

FWD: fwd: fwd: Proof! Noah's Ark FOUND! on google earth
posted by empath at 5:20 AM on December 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


What a great idea, though only the crucifixion one really seems to impart anything other than "whoa, I'm looking at the Bible from up in the sky".
posted by DU at 5:22 AM on December 11, 2007


The crucifixion one actually evokes some fairly profound feelings (and I'm a lapsed-catholic/athiest). Something about seeing the axis mundi so small and far away causes a sense of vertigo. And of course the viewpoint is that of God, so in a sense, we've got a voyeuristic view of our son's own suffering. We're seeing the death of both a god and a man, from the viewpoint of a god and man.
posted by empath at 5:28 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


The viewpoint is that of God? are you sure thats right?
posted by criticalbill at 5:34 AM on December 11, 2007


The viewpoint is that of God? are you sure thats right?

Is it not? God is the big bearded dude looking down at us from the heavens.
posted by twistedonion at 5:38 AM on December 11, 2007


(i don't know if you missed the 'i'm an atheist' bit-- i'm speaking strictly in the metaphorical sense)
posted by empath at 5:38 AM on December 11, 2007


Is it not?

I didn't get that sense at all. Didn't even occur to me. I felt like I was flying over the site in a plane...or looking at it on Google Earth.

We're seeing the death of both a god and a man...

And that was the other thing. The modern perspective made the crucifixion seem totally non-religious. It's like footage from CNN. We see 5 people watching 3 other people die. God doesn't exist in the picture.

And I just realized that's why it's the only one of the four that works. The Ark and Red Sea ones are miraculous even from above, so there's no new mental/intellectual perspective despite the new physical one. The Eden one doesn't work for a variety of reasons, ranging from the non-miracality the scene to the variety of previous depictions making a particular viewpoint less iconic. Plus you can barely see them.
posted by DU at 5:49 AM on December 11, 2007


The modern perspective made the crucifixion seem totally non-religious.

I think it forces dual interpretations on anyone who's had a religious upbringing. For myself (having gone to catholic school for 8 years), the imagery of the crucifixion is so powerful that I can't help but have a religious interpretation of it, even while the form of the depiction makes it seem mundane. I think that causes the event depicted to feel both very large and very small -- worldly and spiritual -- at the same time. There's a tension to it that I find moving.
posted by empath at 6:01 AM on December 11, 2007


Meh, he didn't even bother to make a placemark, or model the crucifixes in Sketch Up. Amateur.
posted by Mach5 at 6:02 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it forces dual interpretations on anyone who's had a religious upbringing.

Nope. I was raised be-in-the-world-not-of-the-world-type Xian. I even tried to look at it as a religious image and it just didn't work without all the associated imagery from the years of child brainwashing. To me, it was an effective way to strip the last remaining vestiges of religious feeling out of the scene.
posted by DU at 6:10 AM on December 11, 2007


Well, the display is called "God's Eye View."
posted by Partial Law at 6:20 AM on December 11, 2007


First, very cool.

Second, I agree the mundane-ness of the crucifix scene I think is what makes it work. I even thought Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was pretty moving stuff - up until he had this "teardrop from God" fall on the people below and create some sort of small earthquake.

Up until that moment in the movie, there were no miracles; God never showed up. It was completely realistic, probably too realistic, and then... boom! God makes himself known in a way that isn't even in the Bible. WTF? I thought you were supposed to believe in God by faith. Why would he have to make mini-earthquakes to get your respect?
posted by fungible at 6:22 AM on December 11, 2007


Now I want Google Earth images of scenes from other famous works of fiction.
posted by grubi at 6:41 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


The viewpoint is that of God? are you sure thats right?
posted by criticalbill

Is it not? God is the big bearded dude looking down at us from the heavens.
posted by twistedonion

The viewpoint is that of Salvador DalĂ­.
posted by micayetoca at 6:44 AM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


The effect of distance in the crucifiction one made me think of Auden's "The Shield of Achilles":

Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot
Where bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)
And sentries sweated for the day was hot:
A crowd of ordinary decent folk
Watched from without and neither moved nor spoke
As three pale figures were led forth and bound
To three posts driven upright in the ground.

The mass and majesty of this world, all
That carries weight and always weighs the same
Lay in the hands of others; they were small
And could not hope for help and no help came:
What their foes like to do was done, their shame
Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride
And died as men before their bodies died.

There's a whole crowd of people watching in the poem, but the way it distances the scene struck me as similar.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 6:50 AM on December 11, 2007


Reminds me very much of these.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:59 AM on December 11, 2007


Like those a lot.

And the melted ice-cream van, too.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:02 AM on December 11, 2007


The Noah's Ark pic struck me the most. It's like a crime scene photo; the aftermath of mass murder.
posted by hojoki at 7:03 AM on December 11, 2007


Yeah, we'll see the fundies sending round the Noah's Ark one saying "proof!!" within a few weeks. Just like that fake recording of people screaming in Hell, said to be taken from a really deep oil drilling site. A sound effect that I could whip up with my old Tascam porta-2, a reverb unit & the BBC horror sound fx album in about ten minutes.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:18 AM on December 11, 2007


Okay, those were cool.
The crucifixion, especially, was captivating. Perhaps because it's honestly something horrible you could stumble across even today. I guess that made it the most believable.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2007


Well, I fully expect to see these embedded in an email forward from a conservative Christian relative by the end of the month.

In other news, the Creative Review blog is fantastic. Especially when you can't afford the 64 pounds (~$130) per year to subscribe.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:57 AM on December 11, 2007


Did the artist actually read the biblical stories or just imagine some Hollywood fantasy of them?

The crucifixion took place at on a hill on the outskirts of town, not, as the picture depicts, in som desert salt flat.

Noah landed on a mountainside after the doves brought back olive branches. I don't see any olive trees on that barren rocky island in the picture.

I mean, if you are going to make a "realistic" image of a mythological event, at least make sure you make it realistic.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2007


Very Cool.... although it does seem a little "hollywood"....
posted by jenniferwalker at 10:32 AM on December 11, 2007


Or you can just depict it however you want to, since it never actually happened to begin with.
posted by empath at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe I've just read too much science fiction, but to me imagining that God's perspective must be from way up in the sky seems like a Flatlander imagining that I must be looking at him from the very edge of the paper.
posted by straight at 10:59 AM on December 11, 2007 [10 favorites]


The crucifixion one rocks. You can almost hear them singing: "Always look on the bright side of life..."

The parting of the Red Sea one, however, looks like it could use some advanced particle work to really capture the weight of that roiling surf. Maybe Tsunami for Maya?
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2007


The Book of Mormon, according to Google Maps.
1)
2)
posted by willie11 at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2007


Or you can just depict it however you want to, since it never actually happened to begin with.

That's like saying you could make a picture of Jay Gatsby's house sitting in the foothills of the Catskills or something and it wouldn't matter since it never actually happened. You could, but it would just be kind of silly. If you've got a source you're working from, you may as well pay attention to it.
posted by frobozz at 3:34 PM on December 11, 2007


The people in the Red Sea pic look like ants. It makes the parting of the sea seem more like the actions of a bored god on a sunny day.
posted by hojoki at 3:53 PM on December 11, 2007


Is it kinda funny that there are folks who think they're criticizing the pieces while completely oblivious to the fact that their criticism is (in part) the point?

Or am I missing some kind of super meta joke going on?
posted by pokermonk at 5:07 PM on December 11, 2007


Apparently the artists are going to do some historical and (other) mythical scenes next.
posted by bystander at 5:13 PM on December 11, 2007


I think if you hear about these from a conservative Christian they will be shocked and outraged that someone would do something like this with scenes from the Bible blah blah blah. I mean these are people who get offended by Xmas and choose to remain offended even after you point out the whole Chi Rho thing to them.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:49 PM on December 11, 2007


Wow, I'm really, really underwhelmed by these.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:50 AM on December 12, 2007


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