Trevor Paglen, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant and the subject of two mid-career surveys at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC and the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, is one of the most highly acclaimed and provocative artists working today.
While completing a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Berkeley, Paglen saw redacted portions of a Mojave Desert map and was motivated to start photographing classified military installations with cameras outfitted for capturing space. Since then, Paglen has been focused on “showing what invisibility looks like” and documenting how humans have transformed the world, and how these changes have transformed humanity. His current work explores the new realm of “invisible pictures” that have resulted from facial recognition software, self-driving cars, and social media. Paglen’s footage of NSA bases was included in Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s 2014 Academy Award-winning documentary about Edward Snowden, and Paglen frequently travels to speak about his work and to discuss how secrecy ‘‘nourishes the worst excesses of power.” Join him in conversation with art historian Matthew Israel, head curator at Artsy.