“Visibility Machines” explores the unique roles 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 seem to represent. The exhibition initiates critical questions about the crucial part images play in revealing essential but largely concealed information, and places the oeuvres of Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen within the broader cultural and historical developments of the media they are creatively working with, namely photography, film, and new media.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen explores the ways in which these artists move beyond the mere production of critical images, activating a systematic appropriation and subversion of the structures supporting the military reality they confront,” says Niels Van Tomme, Visiting Curator at the CADVC.

Video artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki addresses the primary links between technology, politics, and coercion. Establishing a critical dialogue with images, image-making, and the institutions that produce them, he 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.” Closely studying the politics of perception, Paglen utilizes complex technologies of seeing in order to reveal the historical relationships between photography and political domination.

“In presenting these two exceptional contemporary artists, the Center wants to bring attention to the technological, philosophical and legal implications of the subject matter they address. The issues raised by Farocki and Paglen resonate deeply with the community of UMBC and the wider Washington, DC and Baltimore area,” says Symmes Gardner, Executive Director at the CADVC.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen is accompanied by a series of public programs for which the CADVC partners with prominent organizations in Washington, DC and Baltimore. These programs include a moderated conversation between Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen (October 21, National Gallery of Art), an interdisciplinary panel discussion on drones with Missy Cummings, Marko Peljhan, and Peter W. Singer (November 14, National Academy of Sciences), and a film program curated by Sonja Simonyi (early 2014, location and dates to be announced). Please visit the CADVC website for details and regular updates on all public programs.

Admission to the exhibition and public programs is free. The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and is located in the Fine Arts Building of UMBC. For more information call +1 410 455 3188, or visit the CADVC website.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen
224 pp, full color.
Edited by Niels Van Tomme. Newly commissioned essays by Jimena Canales, Jonathan Kahana, and Hilde Van Gelder. Reproductions of artworks and texts by Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen.
Published by The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture.
Available from D.A.P | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc., spring 2014.

An international tour is currently being organized through December 2016. An alternative version of the project will be on view at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, Germany (September–December, 2014), after which Visibility Machines will travel to Gallery 400 in Chicago (January–March, 2015). For inquiries, please contact Symmes Gardner at sgardner@umbc.edu.

Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the Goethe-Institut Washington, DC, the Baltimore County Commission on Art and Sciences, and the Maryland State Arts Council.



Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
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Baltimore, MD 21250
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T +1 410 455 3188