Artist Features

An Artist a Week: Benjamin Grant

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Week 43: Benjamin Grant
Center pivot irrigation in the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin of Saudi Arabia

Find him on Instagram, Twitter (though the Daily Overview one is much more active), or his website (where you can get his book).

There is a phenomena that all astronauts experience called the Overview Effect, wherein the grand scales of Earth shrunk down to miniature give them “the chance to appreciate our home as a whole, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once.” as Grant puts it.

The Daily Overview is Grant’s attempt to share this effect with those of us still on Earth, as well as stress to us the gravity of our impact on the environment. He began collecting satellite images of Earth, especially urban or industrial areas. The results are beautiful, awe-inspiring, and often disgustingly sad.

Aluminum Waste Pond - Darrow, Louisiana

(Aluminum waste pond, Louisiana)

With the world reduced to shapes and colors, the juxtaposition of how small we are and how large our impact can be is extremely evident. Colors from chemical spills and agricultural zones bleed into the ether, abandoned shells of planes and buildings scattered across vast deserts.

Many of Grant’s images come from Digital Globe, a commercial satellite contracted out for various projects such as architectural development. Others come from Google Earth or similar services. Grant curates these images, enhancing the quality and stitching together images to create these stunning composites.

5_central_park

(Central Park, NYC)

What these images do is double-sided: one one hand, they impress upon us the sheer scale and beauty of the world we live in, the magnitude of colors and variations we live in.

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(Tulip fields of Liesse, Netherlands)

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(Moab potash evaporation pools, Utah)

On the other hand, they stress the absolute mess we are making of our planet, the toxicity that is human life and the undeniable damage we are doing.

Dadaab Refugee Camp - Dadaab, Kenya

(Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya; the largest refugee camp on Earth with 400,000 people

Mount Whaleback Iron Ore Mine - Pilbara, Australia

(Mount Whaleback Iron Ore, Australia)

Grant also features before-and-after photos, both of human and natural intervention.

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(Burning Man, before and after)
(See more of his juxtapositions here and here.)

I was so stunned by this beautiful collection that honestly I bought the book before I even wrote this blog post. It’s a solid coffee table book with incredible quality images; I’m looking forward to looking through it and the statements it makes about our planet and our place in it.

384164e200000578-0-image-a-67_1473702788734Waste ponds at the Neves-Corvo Mine in the Castro Verde Municipality in Portugal

 

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