At first, Josh Begley’s Prison Map may not seem so remarkable: a bunch of ariel photos of some pretty ugly concrete buildings. But then the infinite scroll sets in. There are just so many. There are at least 700 prisons on this site, and that’s just a fraction of the almost 5,000 prisons in America, the world’s most incarcerated nation, with more than 740 of every 100,000 citizens behind bars.
Begley’s strikingly simple art project–really all he’s done is to compile hundreds of Google Maps satellite photos–highlights the questions of practicality. How much electricity are these compounds using? How much food are they consuming? How much water goes in and out of each of these structures every day?
What is perhaps most arresting about the site is how anonymous each prison is. They could be anywhere. They could be anything. They could be pastoral parking structures. Only the site’s name and the recurring architectural forms tell you what you’re seeing. It’s a visual “geography of incarceration.”