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Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen

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Friday, January 16, 2015–Saturday, March 14, 2015
Location:
Gallery 400
400 South Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607

View times

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen, curated by Niels Van Tomme, explores the unique roles artists 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 role of images in revealing essential but largely concealed information. Visibility Machines places the oeuvres of Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen within the broader cultural and historical developments of the media with which they creatively work, namely photography, film, and new media.

The late video artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki addressed the primary links between technology, politics, and coercion. Establishing a critical dialogue with images, image-making, and the institutions that produce them, his work 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.

The exhibition marks the first time the work of these two internationally recognized artists has been shown together as well as evaluated in respect to one another. Both Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen have dedicated their artistic research to revealing how the act of perception is usurped and manipulated by political, military, and cultural entities. This situation, coupled with ever-increasing technological developments in military and civilian surveillance, and robotics technology for warfare, deliberately marginalizes the role of the individual. In response, Visibility Machines offers an active space where the individual can become engaged in rethinking the political, military, and cultural environment they live in.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen is curated by Niels Van Tomme and organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Niels Van Tomme (born 1977) is a New York-based curator, researcher, and critic working on the intersections of contemporary culture, politics, and aesthetics. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Leuven, Belgium. Currently associated with the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at UMBC in Baltimore, he merges academic research with accessible, and often confrontational exhibition making. His exhibitions and public programs are shown at venues such as The Kitchen (New York), Värmlands Museum (Karlstad), National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), Contemporary Arts Center (New Orleans), Gallery 400 (Chicago), and Akademie der Künste (Berlin). His most recent exhibition project
Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen opened at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture in late 2013 and is currently touring internationally, while an edited volume is available through D.A.P., Distributed Art Publishers. His curatorial endeavours have received grant awards from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Lambent Foundation, and The Nathan Cummings Foundation, as well as critical press in publications such as
Afterall,
Artforum,
Art in America,
Afterimage, and
The Wall Street Journal. Van Tomme is a Contributing Editor at Art Papers magazine, while his writings in a wide variety of publications explore contemporary art, literature, and music in relationship to broader societal and cultural developments. His latest book,
Aesthetic Justice, Intersecting Artistic and Moral Perspectives, co-edited with Pascal Gielen, is forthcoming as part of the Antennae Series, Arts in Society by Valiz, Amsterdam. He is the appointed curator of the 7th Bucharest Biennale, set for May 26th – July 17th, 2016.

Harun Farocki (1944-2014) was born in Novy Jicin (Neutischein), Czech Republic. He was one of Germany ’s most respected filmmakers, artists, and writers. His essay films question the production and perception of images, decode the medium of film, and examine how audiovisual culture related to politics, technology, and war. He studied at the German Film and Television Academy in West Berlin from 1966 to 1968. Author and editor of the journal Filmkritik in Munich from 1974 to 1984, he co-authored (with Kaja Silverman) the book Speaking about Godard / Von Godar Sprechen. Other recent publications include Imprint / Nachdruck</em>; Kino Wie Noch Nie / Cinema Like Never Before. Farocki directed over one hundred productions for television and the cinema, including children ’s television programs, documentary films, film essays, and narrative films, and participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions in museums and galleries. Recent solo shows include Harun Farocki: Images of War (at a Distance), Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011; Harun Farocki, Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2010, and more. He was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkley, from 1993 to 1999. A guest professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 2004, he was appointed a full professor from 2006 to 2011.

Trevor Paglen (born 1974) is a New York based artist, geographer, and author. His work deliberately blurs lines between science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us. Paglen’s visual work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Modern, London; The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the 2008 Taipei Biennial; the 2009 Istanbul Biennial; the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, and numerous other solo and group exhibitions. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. His most recent book, The Last Pictures, is a meditation on the intersections of deep-time, politics, and art. Paglen has received grants and awards from the Smithsonian, Art Matters, Artadia, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the LUMA foundation, the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, and the Aperture Foundation. 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.

Visibility Machines is made possible in part by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the School of Art & Art History, the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. The Daryl Gerber Stokols and Jeff Stokols Voices Series Fund provides general support to Gallery 400.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Erin Nixon
Assistant Director
312 996 6114
gallery400@uic.edu

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen

Gallery 400
January 16-March 14, 2015

Trevor Paglen, Open Hangar; Cactus Flats, NV; Distance ~ 18 miles; 10:04 a.m., 2007, C-Print, 30 x 36 in., Courtesy of Metro Pictures, Altman Siegel Gallery, and Galerie Thomas Zander; Harun Farocki, War at a Distance, 2003, video, 54 min., Copyright Harun Farocki.

December 11, 2014—Chicago, IL— Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen
, curated by Niels Van Tomme, explores the unique roles artists 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 role of images in revealing essential but largely concealed information. Visibility Machines places the oeuvres of Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen within the broader cultural and historical developments of the media with which they creatively work, namely photography, film, and new media.

The work of late video artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki—who passed away earlier this year but was instrumental in the exhibition ’s development—addresses the primary links between technology, politics, and coercion. Establishing a critical dialogue with images, image-making, and the institutions that produce them, his work 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.

The exhibition marks the first time the work of these two internationally recognized artists has been shown together as well as evaluated in respect to one another. Both Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen have dedicated their artistic research to revealing how the act of perception is usurped and manipulated by political, military, and cultural entities. This situation, coupled with ever-increasing technological developments in military and civilian surveillance, and robotics technology for warfare, deliberately marginalizes the role of the individual. In response, Visibility Machines offers an active space where the individual can become engaged in rethinking the political, military, and cultural environment they live in.

Related Programs:

Friday, January 16, 5-8pm—Opening Reception

Saturday, January 17, 2pm—Curator’s Talk, Niels Van Tomme

Wednesday, March 4, 7pm—Chicago Filmmakers screening, Does the world exist, if I am not watching it?

Co-curated by Josh B. Mabe, Program Director, Chicago Filmmakers and Erin Nixon, Assistant Director, Gallery 400, this screening event features a selection of films and videos related to the work of Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen.

Dates TBD—Film Program: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen select

Curated by Sonja Simonyi, this film program features two screenings of works selected by Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen, paired with the artists ’ own works on film and video.
Paglen selects

Ten Skies (James Benning, 2004), color, 109 minutes, 16mm
Drone Vision (Trevor Paglen, 2010), black and white, 5 minutes, video
Farocki selects

Overlord (Stuart Cooper, 1975), black and white, 95 minutes, 35mm
Inextinguishable Fire (Harun Farocki, 1969), black and white, 21 minutes, 16mm

Additional program details to be announced.

Tours:

Gallery 400 offers guided tours for groups of all ages. Tours are free of charge but require reservation. Please complete our online form (accessible at gallery400.uic.edu/visit/tours) to schedule a tour of Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen. For more information, or to discuss the specific needs and interests of your group, please contact us at 312 996 6114 or gallery400@uic.edu.

The presentation of Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen at Gallery 400 is supported by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the School of Art & Art History, the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. The Daryl Gerber Stokols and Jeff Stokols Voices Series Fund provides general support to Gallery 400.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen is curated by Niels Van Tomme and organized by the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland Baltimore County. This project is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Goethe-Institut Washington, DC, the Baltimore County Commission on Art and Sciences, and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Founded in 1983, Gallery 400 is one of the nation’s most vibrant university galleries, showcasing work at the leading edge of contemporary art, architecture, and design. The Gallery’s program of exhibitions, lectures, film and video screenings, and performances features interdisciplinary and experimental practices. Operating within the School of Art and Art History in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Gallery 400 endeavors to make the arts and its practitioners accessible to a broad spectrum of the public and to cultivate a variety of cultural and intellectual perspectives. Gallery 400 is recognized for its support of the creation of new work, the diversity of its programs and participants, and the development of experimental models for multidisciplinary exhibition.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen

The 160-page book Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen brings together newly commissioned essays by esteemed scholars who approach the work from diverse thematic perspectives, in addition to texts by the artists, as well as three exclusive visual essays exploring themes emerging from a dialogue between their work. Edited by Niels Van Tomme, text by Jimena Canales, Harun Farocki, Jonathan Kahana, Trevor Paglen, Hilde Van Gelder, and Niels Van Tomme. Published by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at UMBC; distributed by D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers.

To purchase, visit: http://www.artbook.com/9781890761196.html. The book will be on sale during the exhibition at Gallery 400.

Vision

Trevor Paglen
Canyon Hangars and Unidentified Vehicle; Tonopah Test Range, NV; Distance Approx. 18 miles; 12:45 pm, 2006
C-print
30 x 36 in.
Courtesy the artist and Altman Siegel, San Francisco

Harun Farocki
Eye/Machine III, 2003
Video, color, sound
18 min.
Copyright Harun Farocki Filmproduktion

Trevor Paglen
LACROSSE/ONYX V near Cepheus (Synthetic Aperture Radar Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 182), 2008
C-print
48 x 60 in.
Courtesy Stefan Simchowitz

Trevor Paglen
Chemical and Biological Weapons Proving Ground; Dugway, UT; Distance ~ 42 miles; 10:51 a.m., 2006, 2006
C-print
50 x 50 in.
Courtesy the artist and Altman Siegel, San Francisco

Trevor Paglen
Untitled (Gorgon Stare Surveillance Blimp), 2012
C-print
48 x 60 in.
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Observation

Trevor Paglen
Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center #2; Groom Lake, NV; Distance ~ 26 miles, 2008
C-print
40 x 50 in.
Courtesy Daelyn and Jonathan Farnham

Trevor Paglen
USA 193 Near Alioth (Code Name Unknown, Next Generation Reconnaissance Satellite Shot Down by Navy in February 2008), 2007
C-print
48 x 60 in.
Courtesy the artist and Altman Siegel, San Francisco

Trevor Paglen
Untitled (Reaper Drone), 2013
C-print
48 x 60 in.
Courtesy the artist and Altman Siegel, San Francisco

Harun Farocki
Serious Games IV: A Sun With No Shadow, 2010
Video, color, sound
8 min.
Copyright Harun Farocki Filmproduktion

Trevor Paglen
PAN (Unknown; USA-207), 2010
C-print
60 x 48 in.
Courtesy Kate and Wes Mitchell

Knowledge

Trevor Paglen
Time Study (Predator; Indian Springs, NV), 2010, 2010
Eight gold toned albumen prints
5 x 7 in. each
Courtesy Nion McEvoy

Trevor Paglen
KEYHOLE IMPROVED CHRYSTAL from Glacier Point (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 186), 2008
C-print
38 x 30 in.
Courtesy Laura & Thomas Lippincott

Trevor Paglen
Dead Military Satellite (DMSP 5D-F11) Near the Disk of the Moon, 2010
C-print
24 x 30 in.
Courtesy Joseph and Debbie Goldyne

Trevor Paglen
Seventeen Letters from the Deep State, 2011
17 archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle paper
11 x 8.5 in. each
Courtesy the artist and Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco

Harun Farocki
War at a Distance [Excerpts], 2003
Video, color, sound
9 min. loop
Copyright Harun Farocki Filmproduktion

Postcard: Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen

Poster: Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen

Winkelman, Timothy. “Review: Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen at Gallery 400,” January 18, 2015. http://hairyrainbow.wordpress.com.

Jason Foumberg, “Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen,” February 1, 2015. https://www.photographmag.com/newsandreviews/view/552

Moxley, Alyssa. “Review: Visibility Machines/Gallery 400,” February 5, 2015. http://art.newcity.com/2015/02/05/review-visibility-machinegallery-400/

Waxman, Lori. “When Seeing Is Not Believing,” February 12, 2015. http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-visibility-machines-review-gallery-400-harun-farocki-20150212-column.html

Roscoe Mayo, Amanda. “Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen Illuminate the Invisible: Gallery 400,” March 3, 2015. http://sfaq.us/2015/03/harun-farocki-and-trevor-paglen-illuminate-the-invisible-gallery-400/