Computer Animation/Film/VFX

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

Best of Luck with the Wall

Josh Begley (US) / Field of Vision


A voyage across the US-Mexico border, stitched together from 200,000 satellite images.

What does the southern border of the United States look like? For all the talk of “securing the border” and “building a wall,” there is surprisingly little visual material that conveys just how vast this stretch of space is. In total, the US-Mexico border spans 1,954 miles. According to Google Maps, it would take 34 hours to drive its entire length. In some places, there already is a border fence - more than 650 miles of it. Pushed and pulled by various forces, some 1 million people are estimated to cross the border every day.

But what does the geography of this landscape look like? Is it industrial? Desolate? Populated? All of the above?

Using the geographic coordinates of the international boundary line, in addition to location data for the existing border fence, I wrote a small computer script to download satellite imagery for the entire stretch of space. I ended up with about 200,000 images. Using a command-line tool called ffmpeg, I programmatically stitched the images together, and then worked with Laura Poitras and her team at Field of Vision to edit them into a short film. Jace Clayton, the artist and author known as DJ /rupture, developed an original score for the piece.

The southern border is a space that has been almost entirely reduced to metaphor. It is not even a geography. Part of my intention with this film is to insist on that geography. By focusing on the physical landscape, I hope viewers might gain a sense of the enormity of it all, and perhaps imagine what it would mean to be a political subject of that terrain.


Josh Begley

Josh Begley (US), born in 1984, is a data artist and app developer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the creator of Metadata+, an iPhone app that tracks US drone strikes. Appropriating publicly available satellite imagery, Begley's work takes advantage of application programming interfaces, or APIs, to build collections of machine-generated images about quotidian life. His work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, NPR, The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, and at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Begley holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and New York University. He currently works at The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media.

Director: Josh Begley
Executive Producer: Laura Poitras
Score: Jace Clayton (DJ /rupture)