Vertical Frontier

4K HD Video, stereo sound

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Vertical Frontier chronicles relationships between settler colonialism, extractive capitalism, and the making of scientific knowledge through early modern geologic surveys completed by the Canadian government. Loosely focused on Arthur P. Coleman (1852–1939) and the Geologic Survey of Canada, Vertical Frontier considers how seeing geologically constituted an epistemological shift in how lands were documented, classified, and instrumentalized.

At the forefront of this shift, this film focuses on the tools and measuring devices used to legitimize the geologic profession. Measurement is accordingly shown to be rife with slippages and gaps: hammers used for scale in specimen photographs are undermined through homogenization; tools used in metallurgical assay are rendered indecipherable; and landscapes of geologic significance are seen beyond their instrumental value. With its focus on the unusual methods and broad implications of geology within settler colonialism and extractivism, Vertical Frontier highlights the discipline’s unceremonious origins in order to better understand its ongoing implications in environmental violence.

Below: stills from video.