This is the first surveillance tower we visited and photographed for this project, an Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) manufactured by an American subsidiary of Elbit Systems, the Israeli military technology contractor. It stands southeast of Arivaca in a beautiful region of what is today southern Arizona.
Our own work to learn about and document the infrastructure of U.S. border security began when we met and realized we had similar questions about towers that we had encountered in southern Arizona. Colter, who grew up in Tucson, has been visiting the area around Arivaca with his father since he was a child, and so we started there. Looking out over this landscape, free for a moment of the geopolitical maps through which we so often view the world around us, it was striking just how invisible the border is … were it not for the steel and concrete that have been assembled into the walls and towers cutting through the grassland. And as we looked up at this tower, noting the IFT technology retrofitted onto tower hardware from the now-defunct SBInet program, we began to see something that has only become clearer as our work has expanded: infrastructure like this surveillance tower does not simply delineate or fortify the border, it is the border.