Black Islands

Black Islands is an ongoing research on the influence of open digital cartographic devices in geopolitical conflicts. 

The Google Earth algorithm is a constantly evolving system. Its database’s updates provide an ever- clearer view of the Earth’s surface, however, there are still dissonant spots. Momentary interferences in the connection between satellites and terrestrial receivers, errors in the process of mapping a flat image over a virtual topography or the censoring action of many states on certain points of their geographical representation give rise to new territorial typologies. Google Maps, Google Images, Wikipedia and other virtual devices provide new ways of occupying and inhabiting indefinite locations through techniques of collective appropriation. Present geopolitical tensions such us the South China Sea conflict, mainly based on the struggle for control over raw materials, open gaps for interpretation by means of these new representation techniques. Virtual borders offer new arguments for the real-world conquest. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an island is a natural extension of land surrounded by water. Black islands are a series of errors manifested in Google Earth’s surface through black spots; Virtual voids. Vacation pictures, military videos, comments and threads geo-tagged on its surroundings provide these uncertain spaces with the necessary legal conditions to become real. Each image reflects the individual experience of a user in a given moment. The set of these experiences constructs a space out of fragments. Virtual devices enable the possibility of transforming random failures into new territory. Black Islands delves into the influence of new ways of describing reality in the generation of new landscapes, borders and appropriation processes. Black Islands has been part of different conferences and lectures such as Jornadas del estudio de la imagen, 2017, CA2M, or Radical Networks, Spektrum Berlin, 2017READ MORE

Black Islands is an ongoing project by Burr, started in 2014. It was part of the exhibitions “A fine line. Scenarios for bordering conditions” in the MUGAK International Architecture Biennale in 2017 and “Postcards from the Anthropocene Unsettling the Geopolitics of Representation” in 2017.