The influence of satellite imagery on landscape perception

Mrs Daisy San Martin Saldias1, Dr Karin Reinke1, Dr Blythe McLennan1

1RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia


A landscape is an area whose character is the result of the interaction of natural and human factors across time. The perception of landscape involves the process of categorising and differentiating our surrounds according to sensory information and the past experiences of individuals. Increasingly, due to the ubiquitous nature of platforms such as Google Earth, individuals are accessing visual information of their surrounding environment through satellite imagery. This presentation aims to examine how people’s perceptions may be changing in an age when our experiences increasingly occur in digital space, altering the perception paradigm from one where individuals analyse direct objects to one where indirect objects are key in the formation of the mental image of the landscape. This indirect mode of observing the landscape allows comparisons to be made at a global scale, and in doing so potentially change how the area is perceived on the ground. A case study for a region in Chile, South America, is used to explore these ideas with over 50 survey participants providing responses to questions about their landscape, before and after, unstructured exploration of the region using Google Earth.


Daisy is a PhD candidate at RMIT University. Her PhD project focuses on the increasing availability of satellite images and how they shape our perception amidst significant change. Daisy has a deep interest in human geography, especially social perception within ecosystems.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

IAG Website

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