Northern Bureau for Subsurficial Instrument Analysis (NBSIA)

Christopher Alton + Irene Chin
resource, life, enclosure, liberation, extraction, reciprocity

The Northern Bureau for Subsurficial Instrument Analysis (NBSIA) makes legible the tools of settler-extractive verticality which measure, visualize, and enclose while tracking time (capital/nation-state/deep) at mineral, property, territorial, and planetary scales. Canada derives its statehood through the deliberate dispossession of Indigenous people from their land for the purposes of mineral development. The separation of surface from subsurface rights rationalizes and entrenches a set of settler-colonial norms, policies and tools based on conceptions of property born from the western Imperial imaginary. We have created NBSIA with the mandate to document and offer analysis of the heterogeneous instruments deployed by industry and state alike, and we begin this critique with our logo. Derived from the Canadian Lands Directorate, the NBSIA logo hacks the prior graphics, removing structural elements that call attention to settler logic. As a working database will continue to document, deconstruct, and make visible the violent technical operations of vertical dispossession.

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"Geological Map of the Province of Alberta, 1925. Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries. Oil sand exposure near Fort McMurray. Imagining the Tar Sands 1880-1967 and Beyond, Gismondi and Davidson. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 3-2, 2012. Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources. Annual Report 1966-67. Queen’s Printer and Controller of Stationary, Ottawa, 1968. Soil Profile of Chenozemic Soil, Glenn Padbury. The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, University of Regina. Geology, Banff (west half), west of Fifth Meridian, Alberta-British Columbia. Geological Survey of Canada, 1972. The Administration of Federal Subsurface Rights in Canada. Land Use Policy and Research Branch, Lands Directorate, Environment Canada, 1984.
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