In November of 2015 we were part of the Territory of the Imagination exhibition at the Rubin Center for the Arts in El Paso. Before and during the exhibition, we worked with local groups and collectives to try to create an extended network of laser-connected modems on both sides of the border, but the groups we were working with in the region didn’t see this kind of communication as a necessity.
During workshops held in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, we worked with different groups of people and talked about what role technology played in their daily lives. We used the vague notion of “technology” to trace simple past-present-future narratives about different topics pertinent to the region, like, the militarization of the border, factory life-cycles, agriculture, water and other natural resources.
Based on participants’ concerns about the industrial and labor cycles in the region, where factories and natural resources extraction sites appear and disappear overnight according to US demand, we decided collectively to investigate the possibility of creating a different kind of network, one to communicate across large distances in time.
This communication system with the future uses a laser cutter to engrave some of our present concerns and predictions about the future onto stones. We wrote software to turn english/spanish words into symbols using a hieroglyphic alphabet that we created.
Once engraved, these stones are returned to construction sites, gentrifying neighborhoods, abandoned factories, unfinished public projects, and other contested zones on both sides of the border.