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East Hampton

Trevor Paglen

A Thousand Flowers

Upcoming
Jun 10–Jun 27, 2021

Trevor Paglen is a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary artist whose practice examines themes such as the power of technology and the politics of image culture.

Exhibition Details

Trevor Paglen
A Thousand Flowers
Jun 11 – 27, 2021

Gallery

68 Park Place
East Hampton

Above: Trevor Paglen, Bloom (#b8816a), 2021, dye sublimation print, 69" × 92" (175.3 cm × 233.7 cm), 70-1/8" × 93-1/8" (178.1 cm × 236.5 cm), frame © Trevor Paglen

Pace Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by American artist Trevor Paglen at the gallery’s location in East Hampton. Paglen is a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary artist whose practice examines themes such as the power of technology and the politics of image culture. Although focused on sculpture, video, photography, and installation, Paglen has developed a groundbreaking practice that involves incorporating techniques from investigative journalism, engineering, experimental geography, and other fields into his process. Trevor Paglen: A Thousand Flowers, on view June 11—27, 2021, will feature artworks from a number of his recent series exploring artificial intelligence and machine learning and comes on the heels of the artist’s solo exhibition, Bloom, at Pace’s London space in 2020. This solo presentation marks Paglen’s third with the gallery, having joined Pace’s roster in March of 2020 and inaugurates the gallery’s exclusive representation of the artist in New York.

Centered at art’s intersection with technology, Paglen’s work invokes art historical traditions of conceptual art, minimalism, and naturalism while examining and investigating the use of technological structures that shape and control society. Recently, he has turned his attention to the application of artificial intelligence within machine learning, data mining, and predictive analytics, examining these computer algorithms that collect and categorize information.

Ways of seeing are never purely aesthetic—there are always hidden assumptions and forms of power built into perception. As computer vision and artificial intelligence systems become ubiquitous, I have been exploring the assumptions built into these technical systems.

Trevor Paglen

This exhibition presents large-scale works from Paglen’s Bloom series alongside a selection of drawings and albumen prints. The aesthetic beauty of Paglen’s Bloom flower formations belies their conceptual foundations: they are hybrid constructions made by applying computer vision algorithms to photographs. In the artworks, machine learning systems assign arbitrary colors to different regions of the artists’ black-and-white images. Odd and unlikely colors differentiate between the various textures, shapes, and objects that the computer vision system detects in the images.

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Trevor Paglen, Bloom (#957c7e), 2021, dye sublimation print, 50" × 40-1/2" (127 cm × 102.9 cm), 55-1/8" × 41-5/8" (140 cm × 105.7 cm), frame © Trevor Paglen

Similarly, on closer inspection, the landscape photography depicted in Paglen’s albumen prints is marked with patterns of arrows, lines, circles, and squares, the symbols of various computer vision algorithm attempts to read, understand, and categorize the images. Employing traditional printing techniques utilized by 19th century photographers, Paglen’s photographs of canyons, waterfalls, and rock formations are developed using direct sunlight and bear the marks of machine learning.

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Trevor Paglen, ImageNet Roulette, 2020, screen, camera, computer elements, aluminum frame, 50-3/8" × 28-3/8" × 4-7/16" (128 cm × 72.1 cm × 11.3 cm) © Trevor Paglen

Also included in this exhibition is Paglen’s innovative and interactive artwork ImageNet Roulette (2019), which classifies its viewers according to the most widely-used training set in computer vision research and development. The artwork caused a major controversy when released as part of Paglen and AI researcher Kate Crawford’s exhibition Training Humans at the Fondazione Prada. The work showed how ImageNet, a dataset developed at Princeton University and Stanford University in 2009 and used in countless image classification and artificial intelligence systems, was not only pseudoscientific in its construction but actively racist, misogynistic, ableist, cruel, and LGBT-phobic. The widespread shock and disturbance caused by Paglen’s project led to an announcement by ImageNet that it would be removing 600,000 images from its dataset in 2019.

The artist has a forthcoming commission at the San José Museum of Art, opening this September. He recently had an exhibition, Trevor Paglen: Opposing Geometries, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA. The documentary film Unseen Skies chronicling his work played virtually at the San Francisco International Film Festival in April of this year. Other recent shows include Trevor Paglen: Inaugural Exhibition Solo Show at Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin, Italy and Trevor Paglen: From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly,’ (Pictures and Labels) Selections from the ImageNet dataset for object recognition at The Curve, Barbican Centre in London.

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Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen is known for investigating the invisible through the visible, with a wide-reaching approach that spans image making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines.

The clandestine and the hidden are revealed in series such as The Black Sites, The Other Night Sky, and Limit Telephotography in which the limits of vision are explored through the histories of landscape photography, abstraction, Romanticism, and technology. Paglen’s investigation into the epistemology of representation can be seen in his Symbology and Code Names series which utilize text, video, object, and image to explore questions surrounding military culture and language. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures.

Learn More

East Hampton — Trevor Paglen, A Thousand Flowers, Jun 10–Jun 27, 2021