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Thérapie post élections: les états critiques vus du ciel

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Plasticulture à Almeria, Espagne. L’origine de nos fraises, poivrons, tomates et courgettes bio toute l’année …Les serres vues d’un drone.

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Delray Beach in Florida, one of the swing states shown in Benjamin Grant’s book, “Overview.”CreditBenjamin Grant/DigitalGlobe/Amphoto Books

At least since July, when the Democratic and Republican National Conventions ended and the presidential campaign began in earnest, but more likely since the spring of 2015, when Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump threw down their gauntlets, anyone could be excused for wanting totake a long vacation somewhere.

Maybe somewhere beyond the reach of Twitter and perpetual poll analysis, where words like “loser” and “deplorables” couldn’t be heard, where emailservers were too small to see and sites for border walls looked indistinguishable from anywhere else on the planet.

If you’re in need of some postelection stress therapy you might still want to visit such a place, if only virtually, at Benjamin Grant’s three-year-oldInstagram project, “Daily Overview.”

Mr. Grant, a former brand strategist, founded the project on a whim after stumbling across a striking image on Google Earth of the irrigated farming environs around a minuscule West Texas town called Earth.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada. CreditBenjamin Grant/DigitalGlobe/Amphoto Books

“I was astounded by what I saw,” he wrote in the introduction to a newcoffee-table-book version of his project, “Overview,” published by Amphoto Books. “My screen had filled with a stunning patchwork of green and brown circles.”

Intrigued by an idea called the “overview effect,” a profound cognitive shift said to be experienced by some orbiting astronauts looking back toward a fragile, oasislike Earth, Mr. Grant started posting daily images he had found by scouring Google Earth. Later he used raw imagery from a company that supplies such views, DigitalGlobe, which collects them with satellites orbiting 308 miles to 478 miles above the planet’s surface.

“The images made me step back and say, ‘What the hell am I seeing?’” Mr. Grant said in an interview. “And that’s essentially what’s been driving me every day since.”

Along with artists like Mishka Henner and Andreas Gursky, Mr. Grant ismining imagery widely available from space to show mostly man-made structures and changes to the land caused by human action. “ It’s changed me in the sense of having this meditative idea of being able to zoom out in my mind and see a bigger picture, to take a longer perspective,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily say problems can be solved by looking at it this way, but it’s a good exercise.”

A phosphate mine in Aurora, N.C., as seen from space. CreditBenjamin Grant/DigitalGlobe/Amphoto Books

(Well before astronauts went into space or the first satellite was launched, the poet Archibald MacLeish delivered a commencement address in 1942 rhapsodizing the planet as seen from the air, where it reveals itself as “a globe in practice, not in theory,” a “round earth where all directions eventually meet.”)

Some of the images Mr. Grant chooses document the sort of crises vast enough to alter Earth’s surface in just a few years — a California drought sapping a reservoir ; the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which formed on almost empty land and now looks like a city, packed with more than 80,000 inhabitants who have fled the civil war in Syria. Above the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in August of 2015, you can see the fields of steel containers used to store radioactive water after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

But other pictures show things like environmental endeavors (massive wind and solar farms); land art (Robert Smithson’s gyring “Spiral Jetty” on the Great Salt Lake in Utah and an Argentine forest in the shape of a guitar); and the dazzling geometries of human habitation (star-shaped cities in Italy and the Netherlands, a palm-tree-shaped artificial island in Dubai).

Perhaps most compellingly for many Americans right now, the project shows swing states like Florida, Nevada and North Carolina as pleasing, placid abstractions, neither red nor blue. A residential development in Delray Beach, Fla., looks like a Mondrian painting. And the view from above, evoking the quietude of space, creates the added illusion of being able to release all your pent-up political frustrations into the ether. As the tagline for the movie “Alien” reminded us: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

“I think it’s very easy for us these days to be caught up in our own echo chambers, with our own friends and our own cities and all the things we think we know,” Mr. Grant said. “A lot of the stuff on social media, about celebrity and politics, is so much about the individual. But when you look from above, you think more about the species, collectively.”

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  1. Il y a une bonne dizaine d’années, j’observais des épinettes minuscules, quelques millimètres, prenant vie sur une souche pourrie. Bref, ce que j’observais c’était l’univers, le cosmos, l’infini en mouvement, à notre portée; juste avec un oeil ou deux, j’observais la vie se déployer dans la nature. Les autochtones et les autres comme eux, essentiellement des témoins de la nature, épiaient et connaissaient fort bien leur cosmos.

    J'aime

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