Lawrence Bird
© Coder et Decoder la Frontiere à l’Aube du 21ème siècle, Anti-Atlas of Borders exhibition (juried), Université Libre de Bruxelles. (April – May 2016) ; Lawrence Bird

Lawrence Bird

parallel ,
Co-workers & Funding
Canada Council for the Arts
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parallel uses Google Earth to track along the 49th parallel, that is, the western border between Canada and the United States. It's about a few other parallels: parallel countries, parallel modes of imaging and imagining, parallels between political, technical, and visual territories. If you follow it long enough, digital anomalies in the image become apparent; they have to do with when a given area came under the eye of a satellite, and at what resolution. These become landscapes in their own right, with their own boundaries, topography, areas of density and intensity. Something similar happens at the edges between satellite image tiles; their seams are rarely perfect, and we end up with one image blurred or spliced into another, contradictory image. The boundaries between these territories of image are especially visible along a political border like this. While they never equate to the border -- there's usually a displacement of some sort -- they do parallel it. In fact they're more visible than the border itself, which is otherwise realized mainly in agricultural boundaries. All of these anomalies in an ostensibly perfect map of the world invite interpretation, speculation, and imagination.

parallel IV runs the full length of the border from the Strait of Georgia in the west to Lake of the Woods in the east, where the political border diverges from the 49th parallel in a sudden jog north. parallel is the first of a series of explorations using Google Earth and other aerial imaging tools; the second was Transect, which follows the Prime Meridian and Antimeridian around the planet, and was projected at Greenwich, England (which is where these of course originate) in the summer of 2014:

Sound for parallel comprises three superimposed tracks:
Ambient Nothingness, by Hello Flowers, courtesy the Internet Archive, modified
Kibo (Japanese Experiment Module, International Space Station) Ambient Sound, courtesy Christopher Hadfield
Audio from a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper / Predator B drone, modified.
parallel was included in the exhibition "Coding and Decoding Borders at the Dawn of the 21st Century" (April 13-May 31, 2016) at Espace Architecture Flagey-Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium ( It's also featured in the 2016 spring edition of The Site Magazine (

A 7-hr version of the piece was screened at Inter/Access Gallery in Toronto ( from Feb. 7-April 2 of 2016. Thank you to the Winnipeg Arts Council, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Canada Council for funding my travel to the opening of Once Is Nothing.
  • aesthetics
    • documenting
    • installation-based
    • projected
    • remixed
    • site-specific
  • subjects
    • Art and Science
      • databases
      • documentation
    • Arts and Visual Culture
      • architecture
      • materiality
      • panoramas
      • theory
        • media theory
        • simulacrum
      • visual culture
    • History and Memory
      • colonialism
      • historical sites
      • postcolonialism
    • Nature and Environment
      • agriculture
      • earth
      • ecology
      • environment
      • globes
      • landscapes (environments)
    • Power and Politics
      • politics
      • surveillance
    • Society and Culture
      • entertainment
        • popular culture
        • spectacles
      • globalization
    • Technology and Innovation
      • history of technology
      • optics
  • technology
    • displays
      • electronic displays
        • projectors
    • hardware
      • video (analog)
    • software
      • Global Positioning System (GPS)
      • video (digital)
Technology & Material
Installation Requirements / Space
Single-channel video with audio.
Native dimensions 980x1960 pixels

duration: 7 hrs.
Exhibitions & Events