Sep 30, 2008


you should check this site out- it makes an interesting parallel/contrast  to "our border":
it is a proposal for the jerusalem wall competition. The info on the competition can be found at:


Walking through the Port of the Americas entry station at the El Paso - Juarez border on Friday, listening to our personable, reasonable border agent/tour guide talk about the work of the U.S. border patrol agency, it was disturbingly easy to think simply that this was a rational man doing a rational job, a job that needed to be done. It was easy enough to overlook, or to momentarily forget, the ludicrous, visionary enormity of the border wall construction project, this distressing and wildly expensive "fix" for economic and humanitarian issues likely better addressed through other means. A factual description of procedures delivered by a smiling, reasonable person can serve as an impressive palliative.
Standing next to new sections of the wall, in the sublime stretch of desert where New Mexico meets Texas, we got a glimpse of the fence that will run through hundreds of miles of sparsely populated land along the border. The line separating the US from Mexico is demarcated here by sturdy wire scrim or tall steel planks, replacing older sections of chain link fence or perforated aluminum, which a border patrol agent (one of the four or more sets of agents who stopped to talk to us during our hour or two of assessing the border fence) told us was "too easy for them to cut through."

To see the fence and this swath of land more clearly we climbed up a precarious and rather steep sandy embankment. The way the fence follows the contours of the land at this segment of the border calls to mind Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "Running Fence." Like a dark twin of that light and evocative project, the border fence runs up the ridge and registers the details of the topography. It disturbs me to say it, but there is something beautiful in this. Sliding back down the hill, Emily and I talked about this, the disjuncture of finding aesthetic qualities in something deeply distressing. To what degree can one see without truly considering what one is seeing? 

Sep 29, 2008

some more resources


i've come across several interesting websites today, one of which stands out in my mind as a portal to many of the larger issues at hand along and involving the border. this blog subtopia is written by a SF local {he wrote the thing ron suggested we read a couple of posts ago} , and he has done extensive research and writing about many of these issues. i've called attention to this one blog only because it contains a long list of links within his blog and outside that address some of these issues as a starting point. i thought there was an interesting analogy in of migrants as water etc., which i found in researching water issues along the border.
also, please check out this photo-documentary website ::
and what i'm surprised no-one has yet posted ::

awesome + free high-resolution maps

OPPS. i didn't see that you had already posted these gabriella! well here is a photo.
hi people.

check out the following site if you haven't already for maybe insanely beautiful maps from the geological survey. sure they are 40+ years old but who cares. the entire border is accounted for, and index maps provided to identify each section. if people are interested specifically in certain areas this would certainly be a great additional layer of information. note that they are rarely oriented with north up, but rather perpendicular to the border. index maps illustrate clearly.

Sep 26, 2008

Who's Gonna Build The Wall?

Here's one take on the wall project, in song:

Sep 24, 2008

map resource

a good border map resource from the university of texas.  the dept of treasury/customs aerial photos are the same ones filed at the map library - hard copies just across campus. great detail, but bear in mind the age (1980s). 

Sep 23, 2008

Guide for the Mexican Migrant

This is old, c. 2005, but I thought it would be interesting for people to read. It is a publication produced by the Mexican government directed to people who were migrating illegally across the border. It was taken down after the negative reaction from the US, but it lives on in various places on the internet, and I thought this was one of the better versions of it.

This has better images of the original document.

Sep 21, 2008

Borders 2.0: Future, Tense

Angela Mitropoulos and Bryan Finoki present an incursion, in text and image, into the contemporary borderlands. Read here.

Sep 19, 2008

Border Fence Construction

Chris and I went on a tour of the border with McAllen, Texas border patrol. The footage below is of the construction of a portion of fence being built in their sector, which is simultaneously acting as a levee. Because the fence is serving a dual purpose it is being regulated, constructed, and funded by three organizations: FEMA, DHS, and Hidalgo County.

Sep 18, 2008

not necessarily fence related, but definitely a taste of some of the issues pertaining to border settlements and their populations.

Sep 14, 2008


Sahar and I have set up a Flickr account to share our photos in lieu of overloading the blog. We will continue to update it as we drive the second half of our trip, so check it periodically, and comment with questions if you have them.

Sep 13, 2008

A few simple maps...

Here's a site with a few simple maps of the border, including airports, seaports, rail-lines, and trade corridors.

Not the most beautiful, but helpful data:

Sep 12, 2008

Itinerary Part 2

Friday, September 12
Visit Marfa
Saturday, September 13
Sunday, September 14

Monday, September 15
Visit Ojinaga

San Antonio
Monday, September 15
Tuesday, September 16
9:3oam meeting with Jose Garza, attorney at TRLA, involved in border fence lawsuit

Laredo/Nuevo Laredo
Wednesday, September 17
Visit Nuevo Laredo
Visit Paso del Indio Nature Trail

Brownsville/Matamoros and McAllen/Reynosa
Thursday, September 18
1pm meeting with John Wood, Cameron County Commissioner
Friday, September 19
11am meeting with Gerardo Guerra, border patrol agent in Rio Grande Valley Sector, for a tour of the border fence
Saturday, September 20
Visit Nuevo Progreso

Sep 9, 2008

Rev. Robin Hoover, Ph.D

Sahar and I spoke with Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Humane Borders. The following is a summary of our notes.

  • Tactical infrastructure at the border seems to be nothing more than "research and development for low-intensity warfare." Interpret that however you wish.
  • Despite the construction of the new border fence and the increase of border patrol agents by a factor of 3 in Arizona, illegal migration has remained relatively constant between 1993 and 2008. Therefore, the impact of the border fences is more ecological than tactical.
  • The number of apprehensions at the border, a statistic used by the government to record the flow of undocumented migrants, is unreliable in comparison to the number of death certificates processed by medical examiners on the American and Mexican sides of the border.
  • One human consequence of the construction of a taller border fence is an increase in jumper injuries (i.e. twisted ankles, broken femurs.) Also, the extension of the fence farther into the desert results in an increase in the distance between recovered bodies and roads as migration occurs in rougher and less developed terrain.
  • Illegal migration cannot be regulated without meeting the needs of the migrants first. This is, above all else, a human rights issue.
  • If the Department of Homeland Security continues to build new fences along the Texas border, residents being directly affected will likely react in unexpected and destructive ways. "Bubba's gonna have a C-4 party."
  • One cause of the different reactions to the border fence in Arizona and Texas is that 86% of Arizona's border is public land, while much of the land along Texas's border is privately owned.
  • 42% of migrant deaths in Arizona occur on Native American reservations.
  • The three values upon which the US is built are effectiveness, efficiency, and equity. With this in mind, you can build a cheaper and more effective fence, but how do you make one that is more equitable? You cannot do your job as an architect without engaging in a discourse on equity!

Dr. Paul Ganster

Sahar and I spoke with Dr. Paul Ganster, chair of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board and director of the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias at San Diego State University. The following is a summary of our notes.
  • Most importantly, transnational cooperation and coordination must be practiced to achieve effective border policies.
  • Currently, the implications of national policies in the US and Mexico are not considered beyond the physical boundary of their borders. Examples include the environmental impacts of the construction of security infrastructure on the US side of the border and transportation infrastructure on the Mexican side of the border.
  • Conversely, San Diego County has begun to engage transnational cooperation and coordination through distributed energy and cross-border transportation.
  • A transborder environmental impact assessment of the construction of large scale infrastructure would benefit the border region.
  • One social effect of the thickening of the border is the loss of cross-border activities, such as the family gatherings that often take place between Las Playas and Border Field State Park.
  • The physical hardening of the border is lessening the possibility of transborder cooperation and coordination by making face-to-face meetings much more difficult.
  • Other links: Endpoint Environmental, Tijuana River Watershed, San Diego Association of Governments, Southwest Consortium of Environmental Research and Policy

Sep 6, 2008

readings on geometry

hi everyone-

i've come across some pretty interesting reading on sort-of geometry at large which could be informative to your projects, for fetish or fancy i suppose. much of this has been addressed/manifest in many contemporary projects, and some of these geometric strategies could potentially provide radical and efficient structures that could be great solutions to our border problem. not only that, this stuff isn't that complicated to model these days, which is undoubtedly why we are seeing more and more of it. much of this is just wikipedia, but pretty interesting.

research on danzer tiling ::

unfolding doubly curved surfaces

hi everyone-

also, check out
there isn't any good photos of the baskets yet up- see the pink praxis. this blog contains some interesting stuff visually, but also contains one image of the lasch baskets.

several of us indicated an interest in starting with sheet goods for the fence project, so here is a little more on that. there are several new technologies that facilitate the ability to translate complex geometries or doubly curved surfaces into flat stock. what immediately comes to my mind is the example of the charles and ray eames splint right? a bunch of flat laminates were cut precisely and laminated together to create an incredibly complex shape, and the joinery becomes both the craft and the aesthetic .
software:: i've got pepakura for flattening doubly curved surfaces, but it seems a little rudimentary and i've heard it is imprecise at times. rhino can flatten surfaces that are only curved in one direction. i'll be purchasing lamina to help with that i think. just to let you guys know, this is something i'm pursuing right now. i will keep doing this until you tell me to stop!

more inspiration

as discussed in class ::

rebecca horn,

teddy cruz

EVENT in november i think teddy is reponsible for ::

field office ::


Hi everyone-

I'm going to use this blog, if you will allow it, as a method of arranging my own thoughts, research, and inspiration throughout the semester - as a method of both sharing what i find, and displaying the work as it develops. This may serve to more efficiently and effectively share research and prevent us from all doing the same thing at the same time. I hope that you all will get into this, and do the same. Please photograph the awesome models you guys made and get them up here as soon as you can! {i will as soon as i get something built!}

ALSO - i'm going to be offering one of my FTP accounts for us to share files online. everyone will be able to store files there as necessary, software stuff, etc... works better than bspace.

i'm starting with geometry, form, etc., social/political stuff i'm saving for a later date.

some inspiration to start with {mentioned in ron's project part 2 description, and then further} :: -amazing artist!!

check out this artist that was featured in the latest praxis:: lots of work with repetitive elements

this project is similar to what we are doing:: or go here and make sure you tell your browser not to block pop-ups, greg lynns website.

okay, more soon!

Itinerary: Part One

Chris and I arrived in San Diego today. I wanted to put up a tentative schedule of what we are doing in case anyone wants us to ask specific questions, document particular things, etc.

San Diego/Tijuana
Saturday, September 6
Visit San Diego
Sunday, September 7
Meet with Teddy Cruz
Visit Tijuana
Monday, September 8
10:00 am meeting with Paul Ganster, Director of IRSC at San Diego State University
Visit San Ysidro/Casa Familiar

Monday, September 8
Drive to Tucson
Tuesday, September 9 
Meet with Rev. Robin Hoover, founder of Humane Borders
Wednesday, September 10
Meet with No Mas Muertes
Visit Nogales

El Paso/Juarez
Thursday, September 11
Visit El Paso
Friday, September 12
Visit Juarez

Sep 3, 2008

teddy cruz and the border

You might want to look at some of the work and articles on Teddy Cruz- (there some more if you browse on the web and on avery, etc., but this is a start)...

thoughts on readings...

In trying to find connections between the behavior of aggregates and the fence as it applies to our vast site, I think about what Hensel and Menges claim is the greatest potential of aggregates, that is their shift from liquid to stable states, and a need to address a context that seems to be hardly static. More explicitly, I’m referring to the “temporary equilibriums”, or moments of local stasis along the wall, and the ensuing “(re)shape-ability” that might occur as variations in local conditions influence change. Zooming out enough to see the combined entropic nature and complexity of the border, I see the need for a system of “reading” the wall as latent qualities become visible and effectual. And if we are to believe Foucault’s notion of the “site” and it’s connotations of space are still as relevant today, then a network understanding of the relationships of the constituent elements and forces along the wall must be had.

Considering Foucault’s First Principle, if we are to see the wall as a forbidden place traversed by individuals risking their lives (5,000 deaths in the last 13 yrs) then the wall a heterotopia of crisis. And if the wall causes local US citizens to assist passing immigrants in the form of a phone call or escape, then is it also a heterotopia of deviation? The social and psychological components of these are interesting to me. Connected to this, I feel, is the Fifth where we might find a protocol for crossing on both sides of the border

It seems a broad understanding of the wall can be had in the Fourth Principle, if the wall, as I stated earlier, is comprised of static and dynamic moments, perhaps more temporal than not. Is the wall then more simply a heterochrony for which relations of onsets and offsets of movement must be deciphered?