Friday, July 07, 2006

Images from Chombart de Lauwe's "La Decouverte Aerienne du Monde" (1948)

Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe (1918-1998) is often cited by for his contributions to urban sociology, cartography, urban studies, and even ethnography. For those of us who are more spatially-minded, and who have an unabashed predilection towards aircraft, we love Chombart de Lauwe's magisterial La Decouverte Aerienne du Monde (1948). What amazes me, first of all, are a series of pictures towards the beginning of the book. In the picture below, we see a reconnaissance P51 Mustang (with Free French livery) flying over Sudan. The caption reads:
Un P.51 sue le Soudan, avion monoplace de la 33me Escadre de chasse de l'Armée de l'air, en mission photographique en A.O.F. Un grande nombre des vues publiées dans ce livre ont été prises par cette formation militaire sur les avions de ce type.


A second photgraph shows an F5 (reconnaissance variant of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning), also flying over French territories. One may recall that French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery was flying an F5 on his last, and perhaps most famous mission.


Here, the caption states:
Gao, la Dune Rose. Deux avions militaires français en mission photographique au-dessus de l'A.O.F. Sur le sol sablonneux se distinguent nettement les ombres des appareils. L'observation aérienne fait entrer dans l'vision de l'homme les phénomènes se déroulant dans un cadre trop vaste por être saisi d'un seul regard.
Taking into account that Chombart de Lauwe appreciates the civilan applications of military technologies for land-surveying purposes, he posits a methodology for "extracting" geospatial information from aerial photographs. The photos below gives an idea of this:

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