In order to maintain the eminence of commercial and government users, publicly accessible satellite imagery is often intentionally degraded to a point where individual human beings are imperceptible on the face of the earth. As a result these satellite maps often appear to depict a world which is strangely devoid of human life, as if in the aftermath of an unknown disaster.

In 2015 a real humanitarian crisis began to unfold in Europe, with refugees traveling to the continent in unprecedented numbers by land and sea. While these refugees are themselves usually imperceptible on satellite maps, their passage from conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa to safety in Central and Northern Europe leaves direct and indirect traces visible on the landscape, markers which attest to the vast scale of this exodus, and the efforts made to variously manage or prevent it.

Some of these traces, like the queues at border crossings, might last only a few days, others like the temporary camps occupied by refugees working on Turkish farms might survive for months. Others still, like the new border fences being installed on frontiers in countries like Hungary and Macedonia, might yet become permanent features of the European landscape.


bab-al-azizia-tripoli-libya

Muammar Gaddafi’s compound, Tripoli, Libya
2008-16

aleppo-grand-mosque-syria

Grand Mosque of Aleppo, Syria
2012-16

turkish-border-near-kobane-syria

Turkish border crossing near Kobane, Syria
2011-14

azraq-refugee-camp-jordan

Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan
2013-15

temporary-farm-camp-turkey

Temporary farm workers camp, Turkey
2014-2016

kilis-oncupinar-camp-turkey-ii

Kilis Oncupinar Refugee Camp, Turkey
2013-15

idomeni-refugee-camp-greece

Idomeni refugee camp, Greece
2015-16

macedonian-greek-border-barrier

Macedonian border fence near Idomeni, Greece
2015-16

hungarian-border-fence-at-subotica

Hungarian border fence near Subotica, Serbia
2014-16

state-office-of-health-and-welfare-berlin-germany

State Office of Health and Welfare, Germany
2015-16

Bautzen refugee shelter, Germany2015-16

Bautzen refugee shelter, Germany
2015-16

new-jungle-france

‘The Jungle’ refugee camp, Calais, France
2013-16

Channel Tunnel sterile zone, Calais, France,2013-15

Channel Tunnel sterile zone, Calais, France,
2013-15

brook-house-immigration-removal-centre-uk

Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, Gatwick, United Kingdom
2005-13


 

Lewis Bush