The US-Mexico Wall

Tl;dr: Designed The US-Mexico Wall, a video communicating the current situation at the US-Mexico border.
Dates: September 2017
Team: Scott Dombkowski
Sort: academic

The US-Mexico Wall video is designed to make information that is difficult to grasp more concrete. I choose to make my video on the US-Mexico wall because I have a personal investment stemming from my part-Mexican ancestry, growing up only a hour from the border, and ten minutes away from a Border Patrol checkpoint.

The US-Mexico Wall Video

Visualizing Relationships

I spent some time thinking about the relationships I would need to visualize in my video.

One such relationship, is that of US and Mexico and the exchanges that occur between the countries.

For example,

  • How many people cross the border every day to work in the either country?
  • How many Mexican students are in the United States and how American students are in Mexico?
  • What goods are being produced in America and being shipped to Mexico?
  • What goods are being produced in Mexico and being shipped to America?

These were all important questions and while they do not directly relate to the wall, they are part of the dynamics surrounding the wall and initially I hoped to address them in my video.

Initial Struggle

One thing I struggled with when developing this video was how to visualize the years and years of history concerning the wall. There was so much history and context that I did not want to ignore either knowingly or unknowingly.

While the wall is very much a current issue, the issue started when the first outsiders settled in the West. I wasn’t sure exactly how to address such a long time span.

Early Story Work

Video Script

I went through numerous revisions of my script. My early scripts went through the history of the border, the immigration policies, and related events that led us to our current scenario. I ended up simplifying the script to focus on conveying the current situation without the historical context and working on the transitions between the different points made in the video.

Before these changes, my script was focused on replicating a dialog you would have with another person and ended up becoming one long sentence with “ors” in between points.

The changes to my script made it less "human to human" dialog oriented and more of a human imparting their knowledge to another human without the back and forth dialog.

You can find the final script below:

If you have consumed news lately, you have probably come across at least one Trump tweet.

Maybe his "Secure the border! Build the wall!" tweet. Or his "From day one, I said I was going to build a great wall on the southern border, and much more. Stop illegal immigration. Watch Wednesday!" tweet. Or one of his other hundred odd tweets about the US Mexico border.

Trump's intentions are obvious. He wants to build a wall. How he will realize those intentions is another story and deserves a deeper look.

To do this, let's look at the current situation at the US Mexico border.

Currently, the one thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine mile border has six hundred miles of wall.

The existing wall is so long that if it is moved it could encircle the entirety of New Hampshire and Vermont. If we decide, we want to do that.

The wall is also made up of different structures and materials, including concrete bollard and steel picket fencing, designed to stop people from crossing, and steel normandy fencing, designed to stop vehicles from crossing. All strategically chosen based on their context and location.

You should also note that those twelve hundred odd miles without a wall are located in remote and isolated terrain filled with mountains, canyons, and deltas considered virtually impassable by past administrations.

The border also has twenty-five official border crossings, part of a border patrol system with twenty thousand plus US agents equating to one agent protecting every tenth of a mile.

Altogether, this system oversees the most frequently crossed border in the world, with one million individuals crossing a day equivalent to fourteen thousand school buses that seat seventy-one people.

You may be asking yourself "If this is already in place, then what is Trump exactly proposing?"

He wants a wall that encompasses at least one thousand miles of the border including some of the terrain considered impassable.

Last August, he called for this wall to be thirty feet. In February, it became a forty-five foot wall. Later that month, he added another ten feet.

So, we are not quite sure what Trump exactly imagines.

But we do know wall prototypes are being built in San Diego.

So where do we stand? No one is quite sure.

We don't even know if Trump’s wall will be built.

What we do know is that the fate of Trump’s wall will have major implications for America and Mexico regardless of its outcome.

Visual Style

I settled on a very neutral style with lots of grays. Ideally, this minimizes the amount of visual noise and focuses a viewer on the information being communicated. I was also concerned that such a piece is inherently politically-heavy. Hopefully, my style choice makes the video feel as impartial as possible.

Reflection

Overall, I am happy with my final video. I feel like the script and visuals combined, create a engaging dialogue with a viewer. Ultimately, I hope a viewer can achieve a better understanding of the US-Mexico border.

One scene I am still not happy with is towards the end of the video where I talk about the wall being built in areas considered impassable. I think the mountains that appear are not as visually effective as they could be. Ideally, I would have a scene from a more distant perspective showing mountains and rivers and the physical construction of the wall.

Another concern brought up by a classmate concerned the scene where I equate the current wall to putting a fence around the entirety of New Hampshire and Vermont. That classmate noted that my analogy was downplaying the size of the wall. This got me thinking whether there is an analogy that would be universally successful in symbolizing the immense length I intended to convey. As an American, you may conceptualize New Hampshire and Vermont as being really small states. But does that make it impossible for the analogy to be impressive, since both states are still significant pieces of land? Furthermore, is there any analogy understandable by all humans or Americans or are you always destined to create analogies understand by only segments of a population?