The very first project I worked on as Fuss Design was this gorgeous (if I do say so myself!) low poly vector of our home, planet Earth. A tiny, speck of dust floating in a corner of the Milky Way galaxy. My absolute, without doubt, favourite quote about the beauty of our very own planet earth comes from Apollo 14 astronaut and the 6th person to walk on the moon, Edgar D. Mitchell. When asked what it was like to look at the Earth hanging in space while standing on the moon he said;
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
Superb, and it still applies today. Our planet really is a beautiful oasis of life and the only home we’ve got…for now. As Captain Mitchell says, looking at the planet from a distance, it’s impossible to see the ridiculous, costly and downright brutal squabbling humans participate in every day. The great visionary Carl Sagan puts it perfectly in his book The Pale Blue Dot. As the Voyager 1 space probe hurtled towards the outer limits of our solar system just beyond Neptune and dug it’s heels in destined to eternally spin throughout the untapped heavens , Sagan proposed the idea that the probe’s cameras turn back towards earth and take one last picture, not as a means of scientific evaluation but as a device to perhaps provide us with a little persepective on where we figure on the grand scheme of things. On Valentine’s Day 1990, the probe was over 6 billion kilometres from Earth and captured this very famous photograph…
In it, the Earth can be seen as a tiny speck, less than a pixel wide halfway down the brown shaft of light to the right. That’s us, right there. Sagan reflects upon the impact of this image by stating:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
I chose to extend this idea. The idea of creating an image where every single human story you know that has played on this planet cannot be seen. In fact, most of the familiar shapes we associate with earth cannot be seen. All that has been achieved, created, destroyed and imagined on this planet is represented by just a few hundred coloured, geometric shapes. The borders, the weather, the shapes of the countries even cannot be seen on this image but somehow you know it’s the earth. The familiarity of the colours are enough for us to fill in the gaps.
Pick one shape and try to imagine all that has happened within that little piece. The arguments, the births, the sales, the victories, the heartbreaks, the thoughts and dreams, the purchases, the deaths. All of these things have been condensed down into one single colour in a tiny little triangle.
So as Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot condenses all of earth’s life into a single pixel, in a similar way Low Poly Earth shrouds all that has occurred on this planet over millions of years into a relatively tiny number of different coloured polygons.