Trevor Paglen at Altman Siegel
With the digital age being the dominating factor in our every day lives, jobs, and even love life, it’s hard to imagine living anyway else. It seems like we are embracing the idea of having a lot of personal information exposed (in the end, we are the ones providing it for everyone to see) in a innocent (dis)belief that it’s all fun and games. Furthermore, we think of the Internet as something “immaterial yet omnipresent.” In his third solo exhibition at Altman Siegel Gallery, Trevor Paglen will show us that the web exists physically, in a project that’s surveilling those who surveil us.
Trevor Paglen is Watching You Watch
The new work to be shown in the Trevor Paglen exhibition focuses on the material reality of the Internet and the way mass data is being monitored by the Governments. Through photographs, videos and a major new sculptural work titled Autonomy Cube, Trevor Paglen will put another reality on display, very much not a virtual one. In one of his photographs, at first sight seeming to be a curated landscape of Point Arena à la Andreas Gursky, actually depicts one of dozen sites around the world where sub-oceanic fiber optic lines touch the land and are tapped by the National Security Agency (NSA). The photos are accompanied by a map indicating its exact location, so the ships wouldn’t interfere with the lines. Collaged onto the map are the internal NSA documents from the archive of Edward Snowden, corporate documents and more images of the site, demonstrating and entire infrastructures right in front of our noses.
Circles and Autonomy Cube
Over in the UK, the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) is the protagonist of a video titled Circles to be shown at Altman Siegel Gallery. This single-take landscape film shows the aerial view of the campus, where the camera circles around occasionally zooming in on parking lots, buildings and the presence of humans, almost like proving to disbelievers that organizations like these actually exist in physical forms.
As a response to our privacy being constantly breached, Trevor Paglen’s new sculpture, Autonomy Cube, offers the exhibition visitors the possibility to join a Wi-Fi network, enabled by few computers connected to the Internet through Tor, a global volunteer-run network designed to maintain privacy. Set in a minimalistic cubic box on a white pedestal, the network guarantees that all data is protected and the experience is anonymous, the way it always should be.
Trevor Paglen exhibition at Altman Siegel Gallery
Trevor Paglen has exhibited at major museums and galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, The Walker Arts Center and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has participated in a few biennials, such as Liverpool, Istanbul and Taipei. His most recent project is the Oscar winning documentary CITIZENFOUR, to which he contributed cinematography. The Trevor Paglen exhibition will be on view at Altman Siegel Gallery in San Francisco, USA, from March 5th until May 2nd, 2015.
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All images courtesy the artist and Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco; Metro Pictures, New York; Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne.