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In the early days of photography, getting an aerial shot of a landscape meant attaching a camera, with a timer, to a balloon. Thatâ€™s no longer necessary. These days, a birdâ€™s eye view of the entire world is available, free of charge, through Google Earthâ€™s satellite images. Itâ€™s a seemingly bottomless well of content thatâ€™s practically spawned a new art movement: Google Earth images have already exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and inspired a designer to launch a line of bespoke, topographical carpets.
One such body of work is Lauren Manningâ€™s Tumblr, Earth Patterns, where she documents some of the most breathtaking swatches of the earthâ€™s surface. â€œAnytime Iâ€™d use Google Maps functionallyâ€”looking up where something was or how to get somewhereâ€”Iâ€™d end up spending much longer than Iâ€™d intended just looking around at how amazing everything looks from above,â€ Manning says of her passion project. (She works for digital agency Code and Theory by day.)
Manning says sheâ€™s taken a couple hundred screen grabsâ€”all on her iPad, where the retina display allows for big, clear imagesâ€”and posted about 100 of those to Earth Patterns. The diversity in texture is stunning: some shots look like needlepoint, others look like Rothkos. In the deserts, the foliage and the housing are in plain sight, like dollhouse replicas of day-to-day life. And other shotsâ€”like the electric blue Texas Gulf Potash Pond in Monticello, Utahâ€”look almost supernatural.
Manning says she would like to someday offer the screenshots as prints or postcards, but for the time being, sheâ€™ll continue to collate images on Earth Patterns.