The Universal Texture (39° 6’58.57”N, 84°30’5.00”W), 2012
Archival pigment ink on canvas, mounted on sintra
62 x 60 x 36 in / 157.5 x 152.4 x 91.4 cm
Clement Valla’s series The Universal Texture
and Postcards from Google Earth
are based on images he captured from the screen while traveling through the Google Earth interface. This collection of pictures emphasizes edge conditions, the result of an automated process that fuses aerial photographs and cartographic data. As the source imagery is culled from different periods and vantage points, anomalies in wrapping the 3-D projection model appear. Constraints of the algorithms are revealed, forging a hybrid geography. Valla’s postcard imagery landmarks a non-site: a space of impossibly tangled readymade highways that evoke network communication. These locations will inevitably be erased over time, as Google’s mapping system further analyzes and progresses. Similarly, the Universal Texture sculptures are playful in their questioning of photographic representation. Valla returns the flat picture plane to three-dimensional space by mapping it into physical reality using the same logic of curvature and projection in the programmed system, coming full circle.
Progress in architecture has given us total control over interior environments; climate controlled spaces smoothly connected by escalators in shopping malls, airports, hotels and casinos. Progress in the Universal Texture promises to give us a smooth and continuous 24-hour, cloudless, daylit world, increasingly free of jarring anomalies, outliers and statistical inconsistency. – Clement Valla