Trevor Paglen at Pace Gallery

Computing systems that collect, interpret, and operationalize data that defines and tracks identity, movement, and habits fuel Paglen’s broad practice.

Employing a variety of disciplines throughout his oeuvre, from investigative journalism to scientific research, Pace Gallery’s major exhibition, staged at 6 Burlington Gardens in London from 10th September, will feature new installations, photographs, drawings, and digital components that relate to corporate and state use of machine learning algorithms to monitor, extract value, and influence people’s lives.

“Computer vision and artificial intelligence have become ubiquitous. The works in this exhibition seek to provide a small glimpse into the workings of platforms that track faces, nature, and human behaviour, and into the underlying data that structures how machines ‘perceive’ humans and landscapes. In this new work, I am interested in exploring the numerous examples of computer training sets creating AIs that reflect and perpetuate unacknowledged forms of racism, patriarchy, and class division that characterise so much of society.” – Trevor Paglen, June 2020.

Highlights will include Octopus (2020), the right response to the current COVID-19 crisis, and debates around virtuality and physicality. The prototype work builds on Paglen’s current practice, allowing visitors to engage with his exhibition through an online portal allowing members of the public to experience the show from the viewpoint of cameras trained on various angles of the artworks and the gallery itself. From close-ups of individual artworks at unexpected angles to wide frames of the room that allow online participants to watch visitors seeing the work in person, the view of the exhibition via webcam offers an uncanny experience between observation and surveillance.

Simultaneously, participants “visiting” the show via livestream are also present in the gallery, as visitors are given the option to stream their personal webcams into the gallery space on monitors. Octopus provides virtual access to new art experiences, while also commenting on the issues of access, consent, and surveillance that are profoundly impacting this new hyper-mediated reality. Embedded in the work is a critical dialogue on the nature of how we use media and technology and how it impacts the way we see and are seen.

The exhibition will run from 10 September to 10 November and will coincide with two solo exhibitions presented at The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (4 September 2020 – 14 March 2021) and at OGR Turin (10 October 2020 – 10 January 2021).

Image: Trevor Paglen, Bloom (#7a5a4e), 2020 © Trevor Paglen, Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery