Rendering Eye: Urban America Revisited

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The Rendering Eye shows 3-D screenshots of the urban United States as they appear in Apple Maps: deserted streets, buildings and industrial plants that look almost post-apocalyptic. Cars and boats turn into ephemeral shadows, trees are cocooned into sculptures, containers melt, machinery is deformed and streets are warped. Although the algorithms trace the contours of the world with astonishingly mimetic precision, the spooky universe of Apple Maps is utterly baffled by “reality”. The software, originally developed for seeker missiles, was declassified a few years ago. The images it now produces conjure such references as the dystopian metropolises of Blade Runner, the Expressionist sea of buildings in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the futuristic buildings in SimCity, or Camille Pissarro’s light-saturated boulevards. The cityscapes captured by Regula Bochsler and Philipp Sarasin for this publication are abstract, machine generated, and cold. And yet they are, at times, bathed in exuberant, almost poetically tender colors.