An Artist Stares Back at the Surveillance State

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Here is a nice little interview with Trevor Paglen talking broadly about his work, new ways of seeing, image making and machine vision.

"Multimedia artist Trevor Paglen is mapping out the new landscape of digital communications and surveillance. In this wide-ranging interview the photographer, sculptor, geographer and writer talks about how he is learning to see the historical moment we live in. Video: Gabe Johnson; Photo: Trevor Paglen" [source]

Twitter feeds and glass castles


Twitter feeds are not normally subjected to artistic and/or aesthetic citique but when that feed belongs to one of the most scrutinised females in the western world, it is no surprise that a deeper psychological anlaysis of how individuals view the world around them and how our choices of what we post and share not only become a reflective representation of our existence but also acts as an identifying gesture that marks us. In reading a 'critique' of Melania Trump's twitter feed by Kate Imbach I tried to removed my anthropological microscope from the writing and instead viewed it as an interesting way to approach a critical discourse around the images we create. As always, the comments fascinate me as they reflect the way that social media and similar platforms allow individuals to go on their own divisive 'rants and raves'. Of course we are entitled to our own opinion and observations, and it is not surprising to me that the fractured responses expose our inherently binary attitudes that possibly mirror our ideological 'core-values'. But more fascinating to me is the role that the image plays within the larger discourse of the 'image-world' we live in and what its trajectory might be into a potentially 'post-image' reality, where the boundaries of fact and fiction are now easily manipulated, crafted and composed as new technologies, virtual/augmented realities, "projected 3D images that are beamed straight into our eyes" [source] are about to become the new normal and where 'image' might be/mean something else in the near future.

Imbach treats our very public need for 'display' as a 'body of work' (works of art/artist/performer?) which exposes the network-image of our 'post-truth' capitalist 'value-saturated' environments to a kind of critique that normally we reserve to the white-cube. Here the image which we might dismiss as 'snap-shots' has had its status elevated to 'public-performative' where its association has allowed it to migrate off the mantle piece, the bedside table, fridge or those weird multi-matted-overly-framed-picture-holder-things (sorry don't now how else to describe them) – and to inhabit a networked reality where our senses are trying to adjust to a world of information that puts the image in tension with our subjective relationship with the here and now. Its worth a read and you can find a link in the image below (... more on that later).

Kate Imbach is an American fiction writer and visual artist living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She is an MFA candidate at New York University has an MPA from Suffolk University. She directed the documentary short films The Taxi Composer (2012), The Mayor of Noe Valley (2013), The Last Video Store (2014), and Partners (2015), which premiered at the 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival. Her fiction has been published in Passages North, Word Riot and Map Literary, among others.

Invisible Images

(Your Pictures Are Looking at You)


We need to learn how to see a parallel universe composed of activations, keypoints, eigenfaces, feature transforms, classifiers, training sets, and the like. But it’s not just as simple as learning a different vocabulary. Formal concepts contain epistemological assumptions, which in turn have ethical consequences. The theoretical concepts we use to analyze visual culture are profoundly misleading when applied to the machinic landscape, producing distortions, vast blind spots, and wild misinterpretations.

We no longer look at images–images look at us. They no longer simply represent things, but actively intervene in everyday life. We must begin to understand these changes if we are to challenge the exceptional forms of power flowing through the invisible visual culture that we find ourselves enmeshed within.


(Research Image) “Disgust” Custom Hito Steyerl Emotion Training Set

Gestures of coincidence:

Some earlier experiements with facial detection results 1/2 : more happy than disgusted – from the corrupted self series according to api

Hito Steyerl and me displaying outward emotional expressions of disgust 

My level of disgust seems to be far less than Hito's ability to display displeasure.

a contiguous expanse

a sweeping uninterrupted view captures the surrounds of a periphery ... the slow circular movement... clockwise / anticlockwise – forwards / backwards . a revolution is stretched by the interruption of the "interplay of directed actions" ... a transformation or a compression of movement / the panorama extends our field of vision in the hope of revealing a wider truth but the lateral return to its point of origin feels like a second take, a cut, a 'flicker' moment which embeds itself in uncertainty. not perfect, did it miss something? is there something else there to be seen? as it returns to record its passage it leaves behind a stretched pixel, a moment in time when it was something else, attached to something else. a remix, "a rough-cut of sequences"...

HF | RG (Harun Farocki | Rodney Graham) / Jeu de Paume, Paris

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