Google Earth: A Poem for Voice and Internet

Google Earth: A Poem for Voice and Internet

Texto de Manuel Portela sobre «Terra Google: Um Poema para Voz e Internet’, performance do autor. Contexto e sinopse. [Texto. Ligação]

‘GOOGLE EARTH: A POEM FOR VOICE AND INTERNET’ is a work about the world as representation of the world. This procedural work is meant to be performed live and is based on the interaction between satellite photographs of various geographic locations and on the repetition and fragmentation of political speeches containing representations of the economic destiny of humanity. Technical and discursive mediation emerge as equivalent devices in the creation of a totalizing picture of humanity. Global visualizations lose their technical neutrality and their realist transparency, and they are shown as instruments for a geopolitics of representations that produces a certain image of the world, of its present and future as a political and economic system.

‘GOOGLE EARTH: A POEM FOR VOICE AND INTERNET’ includes excerpts from speeches by George W. Bush (‘Financial Markets and World Economy’, given at the Manhattan Institute, Federal Hall National Memorial, New York, November, 13, 2008) and by Barack Obama (‘Financial Regulation’, given at Cooper Union, New York, April 22, 2010). Except for the very last coordinate (which takes viewers to the actual place of each performance), all zoom ins, zoom outs and travelings over and into the Earth point to locations (cities, countries, institutions) referred to in George W. Bush’s speech. All layers of the Google Earth database containing names or signs were removed, and the viewer moves within the purely visual materiality of the satellite photographs of the Earth. The zooms take the viewer from large-scale patterns of realist representation into small-scale patterns of pixelated granularity. Travelings create a tension between stasis and rotational movements, causing both disorientation and perceptual pleasure. This denaturalization of space representation suggests the abstract beauty created by simulated flight and also the deserted aspect of photographed cities. The soundtrack for the last two minutes of the performance contains the beginning of Aria ‘Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen’ from the Cantata ‘Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott’ (BWV 127) by Johann Sebastian Bach.

This performance is part of ongoing series of self-reflexive mashup parodies of interactions with digital technology. The series includes the performances ‘MYSELF (AGAIN)’ [‘eu (outra vez)’] (Matosinhos, 2007), ‘GOOGLE EARTH: A POEM FOR VOICE AND INTERNET’ [‘Terra Google: Um Poema para Voz e Internet’] (Lisbon, 2009; Salamanca, 2009; Coimbra, 2010 and 2012; Buffalo, NY, 2011), and ‘UNTITLED’ [‘sem título’] (Coimbra, 2010). In those works, programmed text and/or audio and video streaming confront a speaking self who echoes found discourses fed by various media. Moving between reading, listening, and seeing, the self becomes a site of inscription produced by this entangled relationship between the technologies of language and the technologies of digital media.

This version of the performance was recorded live at TAGV (Teatro Académico de Gil Vicente), Coimbra, Portugal, September 24, 2012. Camera and editing by Tiago Cravidão.

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