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Proxistant Vision

The ongoing surge in aerial imaging and remote sensing technologies such as drones and satellites has introduced a new visual paradigm. Most prominently exemplified by Google Earth’s digital ride between globe view and street-level detail, this paradigm combines proximity and distance in a single image or across a dynamic flight or zoom. Combining the concepts proximity and distance, proxistance is developed in order to trace out the multiple paths and genealogies of the proxistant overview-detail effect as an intensification of the 18th-century mapping impulse and the old dream of total vision. The goal is to examine the proxistant paradigm as an indicator of how knowledge through vision continues to operate as a major attractor in a topologically organized society of control. However, there are also ways of thinking about proxistance as a form of feminist epistemology. Here, proxistance is the constant move between deep insight and broad overview, narrow focus and wide-reaching attention, knowledge of the detail, and seeing it in context.