The Three Ages of Aerial Vision: London's Aerial Iconography from Wenceslaus Hollar to Google Earth

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This final contribution the special issue of the London Journal on aerial photography also considers other contributions to the original colloquium at the University of Westminster in 2008. It argues that there has been a significant democratization of the view from above in recent years, associated with new high buildings, air travel and digital technologies. It suggests that we may be at the beginning of a distinctive third ‘age of aerial vision’ of London, following earlier periods where the view was dominated first by the creative imagination, and then by the technology of photography. Developments such as immersive computing and 3-D cinema indicate that London’s ‘aerial iconography’ may be particularly suited to a period where the aerial view is kinetic and interactive. London’s incoherence and visual complexity, for so long seen as problematic by those seeking to grasp the city from above, creates an excellent opportunity for play and exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalLondon Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


  • London
  • Aerial Photography
  • Iconography
  • Google Earth
  • Urban History
  • Visuality

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