The desire to use aerial technology as a “seeing device” dates back almost to the invention of flight itself. While Leonardo developed his ornithopter, a mechanical imitation of the bird’s vision and locomotion, later inventors made use of the camera in order to read the landscape from above. Whether for reconnaissance, weather forecasting, or leisure, a certain pleasure was derived from this omnipotent and all-knowing view. These 35mm photographs explore vision and perception from above—at the top of a skyscraper, and across the wings and ailerons of a long-haul airplane.
How, if at all, does our perception change with elevation? Do we become voyeurs? Was the project of aerial view, from the very beginning, a modernist aspiration?