by Tammo Rist & Steffen Krüger
A choice of 90 truck scans – x-ray images of trucks and their cargo made throughout 2011 by the customs office at the Norwegian-Swedish border at Svinesund, the central access point into Norway by land. The scanner, which is a massively enlarged version of those used for airport security checks, is the first of its kind in Europe. Occasionally, one of the images produced in Svinesund is printed by the national newspapers to accompany a spectacular incidence of border violation – smuggled alcohol, cigarettes‚ illegal substances, even human trafficking. In such cases, the truck and its cargo are seized while the image is allowed to travel. Normally though, it is the image that becomes arrested – retained in the ever-growing data base of the customs office – while the truck is permitted to drive on to its destination. But whilst the latter images have been deemed forensically inconspicuous, they nevertheless have the potential to uncover something hidden.
In keeping with the medical tradition of x-ray imaging as a diagnostic tool, the truck-scans, when viewed in larger numbers, approximate a composite image of Norway's metabolism – the organism's intake, transportation, and transformation of matter destined to build up and maintain the country’s substance.