“We seem to be in a state of transition toward one or several other visual paradigms,” Hito Steyerl writes. “Linear perspective has been supplemented by other types of vision to the point where we may have to conclude that its status as the dominant visual paradigm is changing.”
For Steyerl, the changeover to top-down aerial maps generated from digitized data signifies a displacement of perspective. Rather than portraying a stable ground, Steyerl claims, virtual aerial maps “create a supposition that it exists in the first place.” The viewer is moved into a disembodied, floating position, observing a virtual and inherently unstable ground. Aerial imagery offers the simulation of orientation though that coordination in active. It’s seen through a perspective that is often remote controlled through digital tools. Without that grounded stability, we are experiencing a phenomenon akin to a perpetual free-fall.
In a free fall, the participant departs from the stability of a horizon and enters a sensation of disorientation. The faller negotiates their own relative positioning to the representations of other falling subjects and objects. A phenomenon that while may be interconnected with visual preexisting paradigms carries the freedom and responsibility of self-navigation.