Jenny Odell – Satellite Collections

…because human existence is conditioned existence, it would be impossible without things, and things would be a heap of unrelated articles, a non-world, if they were not the conditioners of human existence.

Hannah Arendt


97 Nuclear Cooling Towers


In all of my prints, I collect things that I’ve cut out from Google Satellite View – parking lots, silos, landflls, waste ponds. The view from a satellite is not a human one, nor is it one we were ever really meant to see. But it is precisely from this inhuman point of view that we are able to read our own humanity, in all of its tiny, reliably repetitive marks upon the face of the earth. From this view, the lines that make up basketball courts and the scattered blue rectangles of swimming pools become like hieroglyphs that read: people were here.

At the same time, like any photograph, satellite imagery is also immediately an image of the past. That is, to look at satellite imagery is to look not only down upon ourselves but back in time, even if only by a matter of hours or days. In recording the moment at which things as bizarre as water parks and racetracks covered the earth, the photograph also implies that moment’s own passing, encoding each tiny structure with vulnerability and pre-emptive nostalgia. My desire to collect these pieces stems not only from the fascination of any collector but from a wish to save these low-resolution, sporadically-updated pixels–these strange pictures of ourselves–from time and the ephemerality of the internet.


10 Waterslide Configurations




120 Stadiums




125 Swimming Pools




Every Basketball Court in Manhattan




144 Empty Parking Lots


More images and other interesting projects on Jenny Odell’s website. Jenny Odell is a Bay Area native/captive. Having studied English at Berkeley and design at The New School and the San Francisco Art Institute, she shortly thereafter found herself working for the man but maintaining an artist alter ego by night. Her work has been featured at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Google Headquarters, and Les Rencontres D’Arles in France. Prints of her work are available by request and on the always-reputable 20× Much more about her hobbies here or on her blog.