The “Overview Effect” is the phrase for a state of bewilderment and euphoria experienced by astronauts as they view earth from outer space. Back in December 2013, publisher Benjamin Grant highjacked the term to name an inspired collection of widescreen satellite shots he’d begun uploading frequently, via Instagram. His project, the Daily Overview, shows the dramatic ways in which earth is being altered by the incessant forward-march of human progress, as well as glorious natural vistas. Needless to say it’s a simultaneously harrowing and cathartic browse, contrasting some of humanity’s most successful industrial systems — such as the mass pivot irrigation fields of Goodland, Kansas — with scenes of barbaric inhumanity, like the hemmed-in slums of suburban Mexico City. Grant sources his images from DigitalGlobe, a 3D high-resolution image-capturing service, with clients from Google Earth to NASA.
On October 25 2016, Grant released “Overview: A New Perspective of Earth,” a collectable hardback compiling some of Daily Overview’s greatest moments. Of the 200+ large-format images of industry, architecture and agriculture, 70 were not published on Allen’s nearly half a million-followed Instagram feed. One of which captures the wonderment of Sossusvlei, a salt valley on the periphery of Namibia’s sprawling Namib Dessert. The sand dunes — encircled by miles-long natural canvasses — are some of the tallest in the world, reaching to 200 meters in height. Another astonishing highlight shows the circular patterns of solar panel rows in Seville, Spain. The 2,650 heliostat mirrors siphon the sun’s energy in order to melt salt and generate steam-powered energy. It’s soothing to see such an effective process in action, but its emissions rate is less impressive: the solar concentrator produces a staggering 30,000 tons of CO2 each year.