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Mike Miller and Brian Gillis

Border Skirmishes: Boundaries as a Lens to Contemporary Viewership



With the acceleration of globalization, new immigration patterns, and social media’s blurring of public and private identity, borders of all kinds have been complicated and problematized in contemporary society. This poster presentation will explore artists, architects, and social actors that reveal and exploit various historical or extant boundaries. The presentation will pose questions regarding the nature of borders as existing functional devices capable of challenging conventional definitions of viewership.


  • How does the physical experience of crossing a border change modes of viewership?
  • How do cultural stories, national narratives, and personal witnessing of events function in cooperation with each other to produce meaning at these sites?
  • Is it possible to produce inclusive monuments, public art works, and architecture that allow for a comprehensive reflection of community?

 Just as tectonic plates create seismic and volcanic activity as they rub and collide; demographic, cultural, and national borders and boundaries produce friction in contemporary societies. This poster presentation raises questions about how particular viewpoints along borders become dominant or subsumed within social narratives. The object of the presentation is to provide a flashpoint or “skirmish” in which alternate views are shared and viewers see from another’s vantage point.


Borders, Boundaries, Territory, Desocialization, Public Art, Monuments






Brian Gillis and Mike Miller have worked together as an artistic team since 2006, creating projects ranging from editioned multiples to site-specific installations and actions. Gillis is currently a Professor of Art and Director of the Center for Art Research at the University of Oregon. Miller is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Illinois Springfield.