On December 27th 1831, the Beagle, a ship that would change the course of science, sailed from the port of Plymouth. In it was traveling a young Charles Darwin,  whose observations would revolutionize the laws of biology, placing genetics in a predominant place in any discourse on identity. Years later he would culminate his studies by presenting the theory of the evolution in which he established that all the species have descended over time from common ancestors.

In the notes in his travel journals we see a Darwin who is amazed at the unknown beauty of a largely virgin world still in a preindustrial era. Almost two centuries later, in the midst of the internet age and global capitalism, it seems obvious that our planet is becoming a single place. But perhaps a more significant aspect of the postmodern era is the emergence of certain political identities aimed at restoring traditions, religious passions, and / or engagements with certain racial or national identities. In any case, we can understand globalization as the set of sociocultural processes that contribute to making distance irrelevant.

Thanks to cyber-technologies of landscape and territorial imaging such as Google Earth, the globalized world is now even more compact, accessible and within sight. Protected by the preservation of human identity through blurring, a new type of entity – in this case spatial – doubles the world within the screen and offers us the illusion of traveling without moving. In the wake of this annulment of distance, the “Beagle 2.0” project, made using Google Street View images, virtually recalls the path of the voyage that Darwin made around the globe.

 

Sasha R Gregor

Plymouth (England)

After having been twice driven back by heavy southwestern gales, Her Majesty’s ship Beagle a ten-gun brig, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, sailed from Devonport on the 27th of December, 1831. The object of the expedition was to complete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego[…] to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and of some islands in the Pacific and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

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Tenerife (Spain)_

  On the 6th of January we reached Tenerife but were prevented landing, by fears of our bringing the cholera: the next morning we saw the sun rise behind the rugged outline of the Grand Canary island, and suddenly illumine the peak of Teide, whilst the lower parts were veiled in fleecy clouds. This was the first of many delightful days never to be forgotten.(*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Fernando Noronha (Brazil)

February 29th, 1832— Near Fernando Noronha the sea gave out light in flashes. The appearance was very similar to that which might be expected from a large fish moving rapidly through a luminous fluid. To this cause the sailors attributed it; at the time, however, I entertained some doubts, on account of the frequency and rapidity of the flashes. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Salvador de Bahía_(Brazil)

February 29th, 1832— The day has past delightfully […]. A most paradoxical mixture of sound and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood. The noise from the insects is so loud, that it may be heard even in a vessel anchored several hundred yards from the shore; yet within the recesses of the forest a universal silence appears to reign. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

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Río de janeiro (Brazil)

April 9th, 1832— We arrived at Engenhodo after it was dark, having been ten hours on horseback. I never ceased, during the whole journey, to be surprised at the amount of labour which the horses were capable of enduring; they appeared also to recover from any injury much sooner than those of our English breed. The Vampire bat is often the cause of much trouble, by biting the horses on their withers. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin. 

 

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Montevideo_(Uruguay)

July 5th, 1832— In our passage to the Plata, we saw nothing particular, excepting on one day a great shoal of porpoises, many hundreds in number. The whole sea was in places furrowed by them; and a most extraordinary spectacle was presented, as hundreds, proceeding together by jumps, in which their whole bodies were exposed, thus cut the water. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

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Punta del Este_(Uruguay)

In a broad band of sand-hillocks which separate the Laguna del Potrero from the shores of the Plata, at the distance of a few miles from Maldonado, I found a group of those vitrified, siliceous tubes, which are formed by lightning entering loose sand. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

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Buenos Aires_(Argentina)

A town in a state of blockade must always be a disagreeable place of residence; in this case moreover there were constant apprehensions from robbers within. The sentinels were the worst of all; for, from their office and from having arms in their hands, they robbed with a degree of authority which other men could not imitate. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

Printed on canvas 

Size 20×36 cm

Light box framed on carved wood

Printed on canvas 
Size 20×36 cm
Light box framed on carved wood

Buenos Aires_(Argentina)

September 20th 1833— We arrived by the middle of the day at Buenos Aires. The outskirts of the city looked quite pretty, with the agave hedges, and groves of olive, peach and willow trees, all just throwing out their fresh green leaves. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Buenos Aires  (Argentina)

September 20th 1833— […] the houses themselves are hollow squares; all the rooms opening into a neat little courtyard. They are generally only one story high, with flat roofs, which are fitted with seats, and are much frequented by the inhabitants in summer. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Puerto Montt (Chile)

Each family or tribe has a wizard or conjuring doctor, whose office we could never clearly ascertain. Jemmy believed in dreams, though not, as I have said, in the devil.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Valparaíso (Chile)

July 23rd 1834—The Beagle anchored late at night in the bay of Valparaiso, the chief seaport of Chile. When morning came, everything appeared delightful. After Tierra del Fuego, the climate felt quite delicious—the atmosphere so dry, and the heavens so clear and blue with the sun shining brightly, that all nature seemed sparkling with life. The view from the anchorage is very pretty.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

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Size 15×27 cm

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Santiago de Chile (Chile)

August 18th 1834— We descended the mountain, and passed some beautiful little spots, with rivulets and fine trees. Having slept at the same hacienda as before, we rode during the two succeeding days up the valley, and passed through Quillota, which is more like a collection of nursery-gardens than a town. The orchards were beautiful, presenting one mass of peach-blossoms.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Size 20×36 cm

Light box framed on carved wood

Coquimbo (Chile)

May 2nd 1835— The next day we joined the main road to Coquimbo […].The surface of the country, on a small scale, was singularly broken and irregular[…].The town is remarkable for nothing but its extreme quietness […]. In the evening, Captain Fitz Roy and myself were dining with Mr. Edwards, an English resident well known for his hospitality by all who have visited Coquimbo, when a sharp earthquake happened.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Size 15×27 cm

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Lima (Peru)

July 13th 1835- These two small villages are placed at the very mouths of the mines; and being perched up on hills, they had a still more unnatural and desolate appearance than the town of Iquique

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

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Lima (Peru)

July 13th 1835- At night I slept at the house of the owner of one of the saltpetre mines. The country is here as unproductive as near the coast; but water, having rather a bitter and brackish taste, can be procured by digging wells.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

Printed on canvas 

Size 20×36 cm

Light box framed on carved wood

Lima (Peru)

July 19th 1835- Lima stands on a plain in a valley, formed during the gradual retreat of the sea[…].The city of Lima is now in a wretched state of decay: the streets are nearly unpaved; and heaps of filth are piled up in all directions, where the black gallinazos, tame as poultry, pick up bits of carrion. Lima, the City of the Kings, must formerly have been a splendid town.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

Printed on canvas 

Size 20×36 cm

Light box framed on carved wood

Galapagos archipielago_(Ecuador)

September 15th 1835- In the morning we landed on Chatham Island (Galapagos) , which, like the others, rises with a tame  and rounded outline, broken here and there by scattered hillocks, the remains of former craters. Nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance. A broken field of black basaltic lava, thrown into the most rugged waves, and crossed by great fissures, is everywhere covered by stunted, sunburnt brushwood, which shows little signs of life.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

Printed on canvas 

Size 30×54 cm

Light box framed on carved wood

Sidney (Australia)

January 12th 1836- At last we anchored within Sydney […]. In the evening I walked through the town, and returned full of admiration at the whole scene. It is a most magnificent testimony to the power of the British nation. Here, in a less promising country, scores of years have done many more times more than an equal number of centuries have effected in South America. My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman […]. The streets are regular, broad, clean, and kept in excellent order.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

Printed on canvas 

Size 20×36 cm

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Reunion Island (Mauricio)

May 1st 1836.— I took a quiet walk along the sea-coast to the north of the town. The plain in this part is quite uncultivated; it consists of a field of black lava, smoothed over with coarse grass and bushes, the latter being chiefly Mimosas.

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

Printed on canvas 

Size 30×54 cm

Light box framed on carved wood

Cape of Good Hope_(South Africa)

At the Cape of Good Hope the same hospitality, and very nearly the same points of etiquette, are universally observed. The difference, however, between the character of the Spaniard and that of the Dutch boor is shown, by the former never asking his guest a single question beyond the strictest rule of politeness, whilst the honest Dutchman demands where he has been, where he is going, what is his business, and even how many brothers, sisters, or children he may happen to have. (*)

(*)Excerpt from ‘A naturalist’s voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin.

 

Printed on canvas 

Size 15×27 cm

Light box framed on carved wood