Visualize the Scale of a US-Mexico Border Wall with Help from DJ /rupture

Jace Clayton scored Josh Begley's short film using 200,000 satellite images downloaded from Google Maps.
January 27, 2017, 7:22pm
Screenshot via The Intercept

Following President Donald Trump's executive order this week pushing forward construction of his controversial wall, have you found yourself wondering what exactly the geography of the US-Mexico border looks like? Thanks to a short film by Brooklyn-based data artist and web developer Josh Begley, we now have an answer.

Made with Laura Poitras (who directed the 2014 Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour) and Field of Vision last year, and featuring an original score by artist and author Jace Clayton (aka DJ /rupture), the six-minute video provides a bird's-eye view of the 1,954-mile border. To create it, Begley downloaded 200,000 satellite images from Google Maps and stitched them together using the software project FFmpeg.

"Most of the technologies used to enforce the border, or perform the border, can be understood as 'seeing machines,'" he wrote on The Intercept. "This film is an attempt to linger on that idea for a moment, and to explore ways of using those technologies—in this case satellites—to better visualize some of the spaces they are enforcing."

Watch the short film here, and revisit our 2016 conversation with Clayton about his book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture.