Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki & Trevor Paglen


Visual Arts
Thursday, October 24 – Saturday, February 22
Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki & Trevor Paglen
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture

Visibility Machines explores the unique roles Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen play as meticulous observers of the global military industrial complex. Investigating forms of military surveillance, espionage, war-making and weaponry, Farocki and Paglen each examine the deceptive and clandestine ways in which military projects have deeply transformed—and politicized—our relationship to images and the realities they appear to represent. The exhibition initiates critical questions about the crucial part images play in revealing essential but largely concealed information, and places the oeuvres of Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen within the broader cultural and historical developments of the media they are creatively working with, namely photography, film, and new media.

Video artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki addresses the primary links between technology, politics, and coercion. Establishing a critical dialogue with images, image- making, and the institutions that produce them, he reveals increasingly complex relationships between people and machines, vision and violence. Visual artist and photographer Trevor Paglen investigates the covert activities of U.S. secret military operations, collectively known as the “Black World.” Aligning himself with the study of the politics of perception, Paglen utilizes complex technologies of seeing in order to reveal the historical relationships between photography and political domination.

Displaying the unique thematic and formal intersections between curated selections of both artists’ works, Visibility Machines is organized along a three-part structure—Vision, Observation, and Knowledge—around which the exhibition’s narrative is constructed. The first section connects theories of vision to a number of works dealing with enhanced forms of abstraction. The resulting images, which are produced with the help of machines or using advanced technological means, fluctuate between two inherent contradictions: not only that what is known is not what is seen, but also that what is seen is not all there is to be known. The second section, Observation, elaborates on the different methods Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen engage with. Presenting works resulting from extensive observation and collaboration, this part shows how both artists align themselves with scientific modes of research and the ways in which they connect observational techniques to developments in the media they are creatively engaged with. Finally, the third section, Knowledge, hints at the specific knowledge that can be generated from bringing these two substantial artistic oeuvres together. Displaying image-making as an unfolding historical process, it emphasizes both oeuvres as an inherently political project with vast aesthetic consequences.

Visual Arts
Thursday, October 24 | 5:00 p.m.
Opening Reception

A free opening reception will be held for this exhibition in the CADVC from 5 until 7 p.m.

Admission to the exhibition is free. The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and is located in the Fine Arts Building. For more information call 410-455-3188.

Click here for directions and parking information.

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