Maarten Vanden Eynde

The Overview Effect

Polyester globe cut in the 38 existing different timezones.
200 x 200 x 25 cm

In 1884 an International Prime Meridian Conference was held to standardise time and establish twenty-four time zones, each spaced 15 degrees of longitude apart. This was the same year as the notorious Berlin Conference during which European colonisation and trade in Africa was regulated. Time and space were divided almost simultaneously, creating a systemic structure for the world that is still dominating the power balance of the present. In the passing of time, individual countries added addition time zones to the puzzle, including half and even quarter hour differences. Some countries use rivers and mountain ranges to decide how late it is, others, like China, just opted out of convenience for one time zone in the whole country, while crossing nearly 75 degrees of longitude, representing 5 geographically split time zones. Territorial claims from colonial times further added to the complexity, that is visualised in The Overview Effect by cutting out all the 38 currently existing different time zones. The title is inspired by Frank White’s book of 1987 The Overview Effect – Space Exploration and Human Evolution in which he describes the cognitive shift in awareness experienced by astronauts when they see Earth from outer space. This rare and valuable change of perspective is mirrored in the installation, where a largely unknown artificial phenomenon is made visible in a rather explosive and disconcerting way.