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Hillary Mushkin: Survey to Surveillance11:25

"Hillary Mushkin: Survey to Surveillance" is the first film in "Voices from Places Journal," a series of films highlighting contributors to Places whose scholarship provides relevant perspectives on the future of architecture, landscape, and urbanism. 

Hillary Mushkin, an artist and research professor of art and design at California Institute of Technology, shares insights from her Places Journal essay “Survey to Surveillance.” Mushkin’s work asks us to reconsider conceptions of the U.S.-Mexico border as a hard or definite line and instead to understand the border as a network diagram. Mushkin draws a connection between the 19th-century scientific impulse to classify a territory as a way of claiming and controlling it — exemplified by the creation of the U.S. Mexico Boundary Survey Commission Report (1857-1859) and also by contemporary modes of surveilling and compiling data on individuals. Specifically, Mushkin considers technologies used by the Department of Homeland Security to surveil migrant and immigrant communities. She reflects on the idea that the border is malleable, and, given the political will, that this system could be dismantled and reconstructed to reflect different and more humane priorities. 

Hillary Mushkin is an artist and a research professor of art and design at California Institute of Technology. Mushkin’s art and research are focused on the limits and power of human and technological observation. She is founder of Incendiary Traces, an art and research initiative focused on collaboratively reverse-engineering the politics of landscape visualization. She is also co-founder of Data to Discovery, a data visualization, art, and design group based at NASA/JPL, Caltech, and Art Center College of Design that engages co-design and visual practices to influence the production of scientific knowledge. Her art work has been exhibited at the Getty Museum (Los Angeles), Freud Museum (London), nGbK (Berlin), and Ex Teresa Arte Actual Museum (Mexico City). Hillary Mushkin: Incendiary Traces was published by the Pomona College Museum of Art in 2017. Her collaborations with Data to Discovery have developed into tools to increase scientific understanding of Mars, the earth’s environment, and climate change.

Crew Credits -

Creator and Executive Producer - Hernan Diaz Alonso
Producers - Marcelyn Gow/Reza Monahan
Director - Reza Monahan
Director of Photography - Sean Morris
B Camera - John Kiefer
C Camera - Dillon Novak
Sound Engineer - George Wymenga

Story Producer - Marcelyn Gow
Editors - Mariana Curti/Reza Monahan

Maarten Schelleken: "Just Wondering"
Onyx Music: "The Journey"
Xylo-Ziko: "Last Light"
License -

All Additional Video and Images Courtesy of Hillary Mushkin

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