Dan Phiffer dan at phiffer.org
Mon Sep 23 03:38:13 AEST 2019

> On Sep 20, 2019, at 11:35 AM, Lucio Agra <lucioagra at gmail.com> wrote:
> If, from one side, says Margaretha, perhaps the world get information that constructs a "we vision" (from the standpoint of the ones who did not suffer colonization directly - "seeing from afar") , on the other there is an analogous situation concerning people that live in  in  southwest or south parts of the Country, which means also "seeing from afar”.

I’m reminded of a 2016 Eyeo talk by Charlie Loyd [1], who does a lot of hands-on work with satellite imagery at Mapbox. In his talk he shows a series of early color photos by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, depicting early 1900s Russia. These images could be understood as a kind of proto-satellite photography, showing a machine-enabled transect of the country in that historical moment. “Here’s another lumber mill. Apparently there are a lot of trees in Siberia and they wanted to cut all of them down.”

As Loyd points out in his talk, Prokudin-Gorskii was being funded by the Tsar, and that funding impacts which subjects are deemed worthy of his attention. Similarly, the familiar satellite views of our world from above usually reflect the priorities of the military, offered at sufficiently low-res for civilian use. Their colonial gaze is specific to the country of origin—American satellite views are entangled in licensing and copyright law [2], Chinese satellite views use an obfuscated coordinate system intended to conceal the true location of what's depicted on the ground [3] (and are apparently scrubbed of “re-education” camps in Xinjiang [4]).

Bolsonaro is now seeking to discredit the satellite-collected data “we” (not situated there) rely on to detect deforestation in the Amazon [5], much like the EPA’s obfuscation of the climate emergency under Trump [6] (and the Harper Government before that [7]). Government-funded environmental datasets like Brazil’s PRODES [8] are being meddled with by ecofascists, so our capacity to see and know what’s happening from afar [9] are the product of ongoing political struggle.

[1]: https://vimeo.com/176869832
[2]: https://www.eyebeam.org/events/eyebeam-assembly-internal-use-only-hosted-by-dhruv-mehrotra-brendan-c-byrne/
[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restrictions_on_geographic_data_in_China#BD-09
[4]: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/China_hidden_camps
[5]: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/08/future-of-amazon-deforestation-data-in-doubt-as-research-head-sacked/
[6]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/28/epa-website-removes-climate-science-site-from-public-view-after-two-decades/
[7]: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/4w578d/the-harper-government-has-trashed-and-burned-environmental-books-and-documents
[8]: http://data.globalforestwatch.org/datasets/4160f715e12d46a98c989bdbe7e5f4d6_1
[9]: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/24/world/americas/amazon-rain-forest-fire-maps.html

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