X-Ray Vision vs. Invisibility - PhMuseum

X-Ray Vision vs. Invisibility

Noelle Mason

2018 - Ongoing

X-Ray Vision vs. Invisibility is a body of work about the phenomenological effects of vision technologies on the perception of undocumented immigrants. This project remediates appropriate images collected from border patrol, vigilantes, commercial security websites, and satellite images into hand-made objects to expose how new vision technologies including backscatter x-ray, thermal emission radiometer and infrared imaging recycle Cartesian modes of viewing both land and body and in so doing reinforce a neocolonial social and political relationship with the other. X-Ray Vision includes three series of remediated images Backscatter Blueprint, Ground Control, and Coyotaje.

Backscatter Blueprint is a series of cyanotypes that reproduce images of trucks taken using a backscatter x-ray machine, tying this new type of digital imaging to the historical processes of image making developed at the beginning of the modern period. The cyanotype process, having been used to reproduce architectural plans resonates with the elevation-like imagery that the backscatter machine produces, images that reveal a jarring tension between the mechanical trucks and their human cargo.

Coyotaje is a series of cotton x-stitcheries that depict infrared images of undocumented immigrants crossing the US/Mexico border illegally. Using a computer program the digital files were translated into counted x-stitch maps, and then hand embroidered each stitch representing a single pixel of the original image.

Ground Control is a series of hand woven wool Gobelin tapestries that reproduce images of the US/Mexico border at places of conflict taken by a satellite mounted thermal emission and reflection radiometer. Each work in Ground Control was hand woven in Guadalajara by the weavers from the Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos for the amount of money it costs a family of four to cross the US/Mexico border illegally thus transforming the reproducible virtual image into a carefully constructed unique object that is larger than human scale. Ground Control explores the means by which the cartographic form continues to function to uphold the assertion of boundaries between cultural and political institutions of power, and reinforce the panopticism of the Enlightenment worldview.

The machine made images in X-Ray Vision vs. Invisibility have been transformed through the tactile, unique, and handmade craft of cyanotype, weaving, and embroidery to challenge the immediacy in which they were originally produced and consumed and to separate them from their screen and give them body and space to be viewed as objects of contemplation outside of their original dehumanizing context.

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  • Backscatter Blueprint (Los Tristes),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Ultima Cena),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Las Tres Gracias),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Vientre de las Bestia),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Dimanche Apres Midi),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (La Maleta),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (La Anunciacion)
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Trinidad),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Los Bananos),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (La Carga),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint , (Olympia),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Gallinero),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Disputa),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (La Barque de Dante),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Backscatter Blueprint (Man at the Crossroads),
    Cyanotype on watercolor paper,
    22" x 18"

  • Coyotaje (Pollos),
    Hand Embroidered Cotton,
    12" x 16"

  • Coyotaje (Rio Bravo),
    Hand Embroidered Cotton,
    10" x 12"

  • Ground Control (Colorado River Delta),
    Hand Woven Wool,
    120" x 120"

  • Ground Control (El Paso/Cuidad Juarez),
    Hand Woven Wool,
    120" x 132"

  • Ground Control (Mexicali/Calexico),
    Hand Woven Wool,
    96" x 72"


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