American Backyard

Cartography produced to display and map the photography taken during the journey of Elliot & Genevieve through the U.S./Mexico border.


When Elliot Ross and Genevieve Allison traveled the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border it was the spring of 2017. The post-election climate had presented a stark new context for looking at cultural and political difference in the United States — and so many of these fragmenting narratives had found expression in the border wall debate.

Through an amalgam of portraiture and topographical studies of border security infrastructure, American Backyard looks at the reality of life on the border. Various cultural and political processes, which may be ambiguous elsewhere in the country, are amplified here. In an environment where the movement of both people and goods are vigilantly regulated, examined, and controlled—and where federal laws regularly don’t apply—questions of social injustice and discrimination are matters of resounding consequence.

In many ways a crucible, the border issue brought into focus the processes and ideals that bind this country together, as well as those that divide it. Beyond talk of "The Wall," Ross and Allison found a larger, less transparent story about our southern borderlands to do with acculturation, creolization, surveillance, inequality, diversity and compassion.

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Two Sides of the Border

Cartography & orthoimagery produced for the “Two Sides of the Border” exhibition.


Two Sides of the Border is an exhibition in the form of an atlas, a book that selectively draws space and defines borders in order to produce a preferred image. The new atlas presents three perspectives: projective, objective, and subjective. The projective atlas displays work from the 13 studios’ examinations which took on interdisciplinary approaches to study and propose projects dealing with cross border issues: migration, farming labor in Ohio and Kansas, and remittance houses in Mexico to name a few. The objective atlas shows new maps by Thomas Paturet, capitalizing on the assumption that maps have the capacity to dissolve North American borders by emphasizing other geospatial relationships. These are displayed alongside historic maps presenting 400 years of shifting borders in the region, destabilizing the collective imagination of the border. The subjective atlas is a photo essay by the photographer Iwan Baan who traveled to each of the studio sites to capture their changing landscapes and architecture’s role in these regional relationships.

Two Sides of the Border aims to redefine the region and simultaneously is a collaborative project that redefines North American pedagogy. The academic initiative fluidly spans language, borders, institutions and nationalities—all based on the shared interest in developing a comprehensive and unified imagination of the region.

The exhibition is organized by the Mexico City-based architect and educator Tatiana Bilbao and is designed and curated by NILE.

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Un Feu Distinct I

Satellite imagery of forest fires.

Un feu distinct m’habite, et je vois froidement
La violente vie illuminée entière…
Je ne puis plus aimer seulement qu’en dormant
Ses actes gracieux mélangés de lumière.

Mes jours viennent la nuit me rendre des regards,
Après le premier temps de sommeil malheureux ;
Quand le malheur lui-même est dans le noir épars
Ils reviennent me vivre et me donner des yeux.

Que si leur joie éclate, un écho qui m’éveille
N’a rejeté qu’un mort sur ma rive de chair,
Et mon rire étranger suspend à mon oreille,

Comme à la vide conque un murmure de mer,
Le doute, — sur le bord d’une extrême merveille,
Si je suis, si je fus, si je dors ou je veille?

Paul Valéry, Album de vers anciens: 1890–1900, 1920

Photography of the new solar power station located in the Pyrénées-Orientales.


eLLO est une centrale solaire thermodynamique qui va produire de l'électricité pour le réseau Électricité de France (EDF) à partir de 2018. Elle est située à Llo, commune des Pyrénées-Orientales, et a été conçue et est en construction depuis 2016 par la filiale SUNCNIM de la société CNIM.

eLLO est une centrale solaire thermodynamique de 9 MW électriques de type linéaire Fresnel : près de 153 200 m2 de miroirs répartis sur 33 ha suivent la course du soleil pour chauffer de longs tubes fixes pour produire de la vapeur d'eau. Cette vapeur peut être stockée dans 9 ballons correspondant à 4 heures de production, ou directement utilisée pour produire de l'électricité. Grâce au système de stockage thermique, la production d'électricité pourra être effectuée à la demande de l'opérateur du réseau, y compris la nuit, et non uniquement quand la météo s'y prête.

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Asperities I

This first volume of an ongoing “Asperities” series was constructed out of LIDAR Point Cloud data. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) is an airborne mapping technique, which uses a laser to measure the height of the terrain and surface objects on the ground such as topography, trees and buildings. The data used in these images were built up out of a collection of hundreds of millions of highly accurate 3-dimensional x,y,z points and component attributes. Once compiled and processed, entire portions of a territory can be reproduced and manipulated with 3D software.

The raw data needed to make the images below was gathered from various locations throughout the U.S.; such as Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens in Washington, Mount Hood in Oregon and Lake County in Colorado. The end result helps to showcase the power of these tools and the accuracy they provide to the ones willing to venture within the maze of technical information available. From thousands of simple geo-referenced points to complex mystical scenes, they can offer much more to the expert – and the layman – than a purely scientific and rational analysis. By placing “out of scale lamps” within white landforms, one sheds a new light on these familiar territories and provides an additional reading to these landscapes full of asperities.