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Incendiary Traces
The Southern California landscape has always been in question. It has served the purpose of different narratives and provided the backdrop for numerous conflicts, both real and imagined. Artists, explorers, speculators, even military strategists have used our polyglot landscape to voice and define our relationship to place, history and memory.

Conceived by artist Hillary Mushkin, "Incendiary Traces" is a conceptually driven, community-generated art project that explores the political act of representing the Southern California landscape by creating a series of "draw-in" events in different locations across the region, from the border between U.S. and Mexico to San Clemente Island and beyond.

The project, which is developing an archive of images, uses our real and symbolic affiliations with the subtropics as a starting point to bring home connections between Southern California and political "hot spots" in the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America and beyond. The archive includes drawings, ephemera, public events, sounds, and other forms of expression that reach beyond mainstream representations of these geographies. Through engaged and embodied acts of image and sound-making, "Incendiary Traces" aims to bring us closer to seemingly remote international conflicts. We are seeking collaborators in its development.

Follow along with Incendiary Traces at their website and on Facebook.

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Nikko Mueller sitting on a ladder on top of a park table at the San Clemente Border Station for "Three Border Ecologies" | Lena Martinez Miller
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Artbound

Audio Slideshow: Artists on the U.S. Border They Never Knew About

All around the United States is a 100-mile border zone where one can be searched and one's things seized. Policies way beyond what the constitution allows is regularly implemented. Artists drew on select sites. Here's what they realized.
Hillary Mushkin's artwork at the San Clemente Border Station for "Three Border Ecologies" | Courtesy of Hillary Mushkin
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Artbound

Border Fiction Made Real: How Search and Seizure Laws Degrade on the 100-Mile Border Zone

Created by policymakers in the 1940s, the border zone extends 100 miles inland from the nation’s land and sea boundaries and houses nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population. It's also where the 4th amendment rights of the people have been subverted.
Sketch of Laguna Peak Tracking Station, 2016. Watercolor and ink on paper | Hillary Mushkin
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Artbound

Artists Stage a Draw-In at Pt. Mugu, Beautiful Site and Military Testing Facility

As part of the "Incendiary Traces" project, Hillary Mushkin took artists to Pt. Mugu to do some surveiling and drawing of their own.
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Artbound

Machines for Training: Military Performance and Embodied Knowledge

"Incendiary Traces" examines how military groups employ simulation, role-playing, and performance to deliver training required to operate in the extreme conditions of combat.
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Artbound

Desert Deployment: Southern California's World War II Desert Training Center

Thirty miles east of Indio, California in a largely uninhabited desert landscape, sits the largest military training ground in U.S. history, though you might not have heard of it.
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Artbound

Imagining Global War: Popular Cartography During World War II

Incendiary Traces looks at the cartographic representations of WWII in the 1940s, providing historical context for understanding our own conception of global space.
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Artbound

Incendiary Traces: Sketching Simulated Battlefields in Silicon Beach

Incendiary Traces pays a virtual visit to an Afghani village to make the seemingly remote conflict a bit more comprehensible to those in the U.S.
Article
Artbound

Visualizing War: Virtual Reality, Simulations, and Physical Battlefields

Simulations in computer games and virtual reality are radically altering the way the military prepares soldiers for war.
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Artbound

Incendiary Traces: Artists, Surveillance and Patrol at the Border

Incendiary Traces visited the Mexico/U.S. Border to view the border from the perspective of U.S. Border Patrol agents.
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Artbound

Crossing the Line: A History of Medical Inspection at the Border

In the early 1900s, medical inspection and photographic documentation ushered in a new set of surveillance procedures for state oversight at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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