Trevor Paglen public talk: 'Machine Visions'

Time: 6 - 7.30pm

Venue: The Whitworth Art Gallery, Grand Hall

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The advent of computer vision and various forms of machine learning and artificial intelligence have led us to a strange turning point in the history of images: the preponderance of images in the world are now made by machines for other machines, with humans rarely in the loop. This is a dramatic development not only in the history of images and visual culture, but in history itself. In the past, an image for all intents and purposes required a human viewer in order to exist. Now that has changed and much of the making and interpreting of images going on in the world happens without human eyes – invisibly. In this presentation, artist Trevor Paglen asks: What are machines seeing when they look at the world? What are the various formal assumptions of computer vision systems? How does the quantification of vision lead to all sorts of political operations masquerading as scientific endeavours? What, therefore, are the politics of a machine-readable world?

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Biography

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures. Trevor Paglen’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art; Berkeley Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Nevada Museum of Art. He has launched an artwork into distant orbit around Earth in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT, contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. Paglen’s work has been profiled in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist and Artforum. He has received numerous awards, including the 2018 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize and the 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, among others. Paglen holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography from U.C. Berkeley.