• 11.15.16

A Brilliant Visualization Of How Dumb Trump’s Wall Really Is

It’s a bad deal. Bad, very bad.

A Brilliant Visualization Of How Dumb Trump’s Wall Really Is

Trump will be president, but no one knows just how many of his campaign promises he’ll keep–including his irrational plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. This video sums up just how absurd a proposition it is.


Released in late October by the documentary unit Field of Vision, Good Luck with the Wall is an aerial montage that zooms across the entire 1,989-mile length of the border. Directed by data artist Josh Begley and executive produced by Oscar-winning director of Citizenfour Laura Poitras, the six-minute short film is made of hundreds of thousands of satellite images that have been stitched together to show the dizzying size of the border.

Throughout the 2016 election, Trump’s promise to build a wall was met with enthusiasm from some of his supporters and disdain from everyone else. News organizations have noted the obstacles to such a piece of infrastructure, from the widely varying topography of the border to the amount of money that it would cost. There are already 652.6 miles of fences along the border and those alone cost more than $7 billion, according to the Washington Post. While Trump claimed the wall would cost $8 billion to build, Bernstein Research’s extensive report into the matter puts the price point at between $15 and $25 billion. That’s significantly more than the $7.7 billion allocated in the 2017 budget for research and development for clean energy, and about on par with what the government plans to spend on cybersecurity.

For Begley, the project was about simply looking, about having a more visceral understanding of the landscape that has so often been reduced to a headline. It was about recognizing the border’s role as a metaphor for immigration in the collective American consciousness.

Begley isn’t the only artist to take on Trump’s plan. The architectural parody website Aristophanes proposed building a wall around Trump himself; another group of activist designers launched a campaign to build a sandbag barricade in front of one of his skyscrapers; and one Mexican firm even envisioned the infamous wall as a magenta tribute to Luis Barragán. But Begley’s video may be the most effective satire yet because it lets the border’s sheer expanse do all the talking.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Follow her on Twitter @kschwabable.