ASX.TV: The Photographic Universe: A Conference – “Trevor Paglen – ‘The Omnipresent Camera’” (2011)

The Photographic Universe: A Conference

The Photography Program in the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design, The Aperture Foundation, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and The Shpilman Institute for Photography jointly present The Photographic Universe: A Conference. This two-day symposium brings together a range of leading photographers, scientists, theoreticians, historians, and philosophers from Parsons as well as other institutions, to reflect and discuss photography at a pivotal moment in its history.

The field of photography is constantly changing. What constitutes a ‘photographer’ or a ‘photograph’ has always been redefined by technological innovations, never more so than during the last two decades of the emerging digital revolution and the Internet. Quite possibly, photography is now at a similar place to where it was during its invention – a time when its cultural significance quickly grew due to fast and innovative technological development. The Photographic Universe: A Conference reflects on this current moment, with the pervasive digitalization of the medium and its speedy permeation into contemporary life. What is the importance of photography as a medium and a discipline? Prominent thinkers and practitioners discuss their roles in the expanding photographic field, evaluate its increasingly blurry relationship between art and life, and speculate on how photographic images will continue to change the way we see our world.

The conference features one-on-one conversations between individuals from disparate professional and research backgrounds. Each speaker contributes a ten-minute presentation on the subject of photography, followed by a twenty minute dialogue between the presenters.

Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer whose work deliberately blurs lines between social 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 Tate Modern, London; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; the 2008 Taipei Biennial; the 2009 Istanbul Biennial, and has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, Wired, Newsweek, Modern Painters, Aperture, and Art Forum. Paglen has received grants and commissions from Rhizome.org, Art Matters, Artadia, and the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology. Paglen is the author of four books. His first book, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights (co-authored with AC Thompson; Melville House, 2006) was the first book to systematically describe the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program. His second book, I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me (Melville House, 2007) an examination of the visual culture of “black” military programs, was published in Spring 2008. His third book, Blank Spots on a Map, was published by Dutton/Penguin in early 2009. In 2010, Aperture published his first photographic monograph entitled Invisible. Paglen holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley, an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography from UC Berkeley.

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