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Keywords:

  • cartography;
  • gaze;
  • geographical imagination;
  • geopolitics;
  • globe;
  • images;
  • Modernism;
  • One-world;
  • representation;
  • space photography;
  • Whole-earth

Abstract

The paper examines two photographs of the Earth taken during the Apollo Space program in 1968 and 1972 as representations of the Earth whose cartographic significance is of less importance than their relations with the contemporary Western geographical imagination. Earthrise and AS17-148-22727 are unique as eyewitness photographs of the terracqueous globe. They are interpreted within a historical context of seeing and representation in which Western culture has consistently associated the globe with Christianity and imperialism. The essay summarizes certain technical aspects of Apollo space photography, examines the iconography of the two images, and places them in the twentieth-century cultural contexts of aerial views, both military and civil, airborne photography, and geopolitics, while paying particular attention to the mastering gaze associated with tese practices as well as the specifically American use of global iconography in the post-war period. Specific texts structured ealy cultural interpretation of the Apollo photographs, most notably the writings of the American Modernist intellectual Archibald MacLeish, the astronauts themselves, and the American press. These texts produce two distinct but related interpretations, here termed One-world and Whole-earth. The respective uses of the Apollo space photographs as global spatial and environmental images over the past two decades reveal their significance in shaping aspects of the contemporary Western geographical imagination.