Trevor Paglen

Alum Trevor Paglen Featured in New Exhibit on AI

The New York Times recently featured alum Trevor Paglen (MFA 2002) in a piece exploring the impact of Artificial Intelligence on art. 

Paglen is an interdisciplinary artist whose work and publications cover investigative journalism, geography, engineering, photography, and sculpture, which encompass such topics as government secrets and surveillance technology. His book Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes (2010), is a photographic monograph spanning eight years of documenting American military sites and “classified spacecraft” in Earth’s orbit. A recipient of several major awards, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship (the “genius” grant) in 2017, Paglen has held solo exhibitions around the world: the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the Osservatorio in Milan, and the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, to name a few.

Paglen’s latest project addresses the unleashing of technology as one of several artists featured at the de Young Museum in San Francisco for the exhibition Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI. Paglen’s piece, They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead… (SD18) takes on the “myth of neutrality in machine learning” by amassing a gridded installation of over 3,000 mugshots taken by facial-recognition technology — without the consent of the photographed. In the New York Times article, Paglen comments that his project questions how we weaponize data, 

“We live in a world in which things are being sorted into categories that are not inherent in nature,” he said.