See Real-Time Sunrises and Sunsets Around the World Courtesy of Artist’s Amazing Website

'All Our Yesterdays' creates a never-ending image loop.

Detail of Penelope Umbrica

Detail of a work from Penelope Umbrico’s “Suns From Sunset From Flickr” series.
Photo:Penelope Umbrico via Flickr.

Increasingly, artists are taking images of flowers, sunsets, and tantalizing meals one encounters on sites like Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, and other social media platforms and transforming them into fine art (see When Is Artist On Artist Theft Okay?).


Designer Michelle Chandra’s map showing posting of Instagram pictures of sunrises and sunsets around the world in real time.
Image: Courtesy of

Today we stumbled on designer Michelle Chandra’s website, via the Daily Mail. Titled All Our Yesterdays, the site lets viewers see sunrises and sunsets around the world on Instagram, in real time.

Several zoomable, searchable maps that vary in function have markers for pictures tagged “sunrise” and “sunset”, with the brightness of the dot indicating the closeness of the image to the actual time it occurred.


As Chandra explained on her website in a section titled “Synchronicity,”: “Instagram users reveal…a richly textured irregular time in which the setting sun and end of the day for one individual is the beginning of the day for another, a never-ending loop.’

According to her post, she found that, while Instagram users upload photos of the sunset within four hours of the sun setting, many Instagram users wait until the end of the day to reminisce about the sunrise.

“As we move seamlessly between time zones, our only awareness of the sun’s hold on time are the photos we take of the sunset. We have replaced a local sense of time and place now with a global one,” Chandra writes.

A few months ago, the New York Times magazine featured a piece by Teju Cole entitled “Visual Remix” that described several artists taking advantage of hordes of images to make projects out of common images placed side by side—ranging from something as banal as Eric Oglander’s mirrors for sale on Craiglist to Penelope Umbrico’s multiplied sunsets, cropped to show just the sun against vivid backgrounds.

As Cole noted: “A number of artists are using this abundance as their starting point, setting their own cameras aside and turning to the horde—collecting and arranging photographs that they have found online.”

As Umbrico explains on her website:

“This is a project I started when I found 541,795 pictures of sunsets searching the word ‘sunset’ on the image hosting website, Flickr. I cropped just the suns from these pictures and uploaded them to Kodak, making 4″ x 6″ machine prints from them.”

Penelope Umbrico. Suns (From Sunsets) from Flickr, 2006-ongoing.Photo: the artist's website.

Penelope Umbrico. Suns (From Sunsets) from Flickr, 2006-ongoing.
Photo: the artist’s website.

Several projects that collate or track social media postings have cropped up recently that speak to not only the appeal of such photos, but also the boundaries of ownership over such images, especially when they are personal expressions of the self (see Who Are The Suicide Girls?)

For instance, who could forget how appropriation artist Richard Prince recently broke the art Internet—or at least set it abuzz—with his Gagosian gallery and Frieze shows featuring racy images of young women the artist lifted from Instagram? (see Richard Prince Instagram Victims Speak Out and Paddy Johnson on Why Richard Prince Sucks Again).

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