Satellite Photo Archive (or, How I searched to reconcile my memories with Google Earth’s) looks to Google Earth’s rich database of historical satellite imagery as a supplementary repository of our personal histories. Each drawer stores physical copies of what Google collects and helps us remember about places we’ve lived, left, and often return to.
In their quiet, visual documentation of our planet, satellites possess an impartiality that mediates raw history and malleable, often selective, memory. Through the human labor of parsing, analyzing, and reconstructing these images comes a reconciliation with the present: What information might the images reveal? What memories might they dislodge? How might these records of change, choice, presence, and absence reflect back into our current life?
This process of assembling the archive becomes a search for personal identity, whose genesis comes from a place of loss and remembrance—a melancholic longing for an otherwise unrecoverable past, and the need to systematically and ritualistically organize in order to preserve.
Sample aerial “chips” of my childhood home shown over several decades.
Prototype of how the image dataset might be stored locally on one’s computer: