Boundary Landscapes – The Draped Line


The image above is a screen shot from Google Earth showing an oblique satellite view of a hill used by the Border Patrol for both visual and electronic surveillance.  The observation point is at the end of the dead-end road that move up from the lower right of the frame.  Look close enough at the end and you can make out that a Border Patrol vehicle was present as the satellite passed overhead.  Surveillance of surveillance, I love it.  All of the images I made while in Arizona while maybe not directly depicting surveillance were in fact made while under surveillance.  This surveillance was conducted by both the US government, civilian groups, and by elements both legal and illegal across the border.  At times the surveillance was very overt and sometimes not but it was always present.  Working in such an environment, even when making sure that your activities can be easily seen to avoid undue suspicion, can raise the paranoia level after a while. This is what I wanted to experience during this project, being alone in the vast desert but being observed being alone.

©2012 Phillip D. Nesmith

On June 19th I made my way up the steep hill shown in the satellite image (although it does not look that way) to make views looking south.  The 7×5″ wet collodion ambrotype above is the ground level view from the observation location.  The dark line running across the hills in the distance the the international boundary taken from the flat page of a map and draped physically across the terrain.  I am continually amazed by this sight and found myself making many more images of this line running across the landscape than I had initially planned. This particular image was made while under optical and ground surveillance radar observation from three separate locations within a mile to the east, west and southwest.


~ by Phil Nesmith on October 16, 2012.

%d bloggers like this: