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Posted by on Dec 28, 2011

Russell Square, London and a big airplane: perspective shift


Being as intrigued as I am by the magical powers of (shifting) perspective in reorganizing thought, I bring you today something that actually startled me as I was using Google Maps’ Satellite View to look for a particular address. I was roaming around the University of London (in Google Maps) looking for a particular address (right outside the Institute of Education) and noticed this rather large airplane making a descent into Gatwick Airport (that is just a guess). The sheer size of it, almost encompassing all of Russell Square, froze me for a moment as it looked entirely serene and motionless. Barely a blur can be detected in the image (despite it moving at hundreds of miles per hour) and all seems peaceful. It still unnerved me. 

My surprise came from a sense of historical knowledge, of having been there and studied this map before and knowing full well there isn’t a plane nestled in the midst of a beautiful urban park in London. My expectation of what I was to see based on my knowledge construct was shifted based merely on an unlikely intersection of time and space, that plane hovering over Russell Square just as the image was snapped. I was forced to see anew, re-examine what I knew about this place merely because something seemed out of place. It was a troublesome inclusion of new information that thwarted a comfortable knowledge construct. 

Go ahead, see for yourself.




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