The third iteration of the Hillman Photography Initiative (HPI), a CMOA project committed to exploring new ideas about photography, launches this year. The initiative will present an exhibition of work by artist Trevor Paglen.

With the development and advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), there has been a radical change in the way that surveillance systems capture, categorize, and synthesize photographs. Mirror with a Memory explores the many ways artists probe the intersections of photography, surveillance, and AI—their past, present, and future—to underscore concerns about implicit bias, right to privacy, and police monitoring embedded in corporate, military, and law enforcement applications.

The exhibition will include a new site-specific commission as well as a sculpture that doubles as a WiFi hotspot and photographs that reveal how AI analyzes and labels photographs of people and places. These works will be placed in three areas within the museum, inviting visitors to encounter Paglen’s insightful perspective in different contexts.

Trevor Paglen: Opposing Geometries is organized by Dan Leers, curator of photography, with Taylor Fisch, curatorial assistant.

Your Homework

  1. Visit the Trevor Paglen: Opposing Geometries exhibition at the Carnegie Musuem of Art. Whether or not you are able to visit the exhibit in-person, research Paglen’s work so you are able to engage with Taylor’s virtual tour on Monday, November 16.

    1. Paglen’s Studio website
    2. Paglen’s Art21 feature
    3. An interview with Paglen
    4. Find additional resources through your own research
  2. Reflect and respond to Paglen’s work with drawing; follow the rules of Entopic Graphomania. This Surrealist game is designed to highlight patterns and meaning in places we least expect. Watch the video below and create your drawing. You may draw using traditional drawing materials (paper, pen, or pencil) or, if you prefer, it can be created digitally.

  3. Reflect and respond to Paglen’s work with words. Your answer should be approx. 300 words. Submit your responses to Canvas by 2:40 p.m. on Monday, November 16.
    1. What motivates Paglen’s creative work?
    2. Is there a particular piece of his that struck you? Positively or negatively?  Explain.
    3. How does Paglen’s creative inquiry resonate with you? Are you inspired or bored by his process and way of seeing? Why?
    4. Additional thoughts?
  4. Upload your drawing and writing to this corresponding Canvas assignment.

Nothing that you make in the world exists in isolation from the social and political and ecological dimensions of it.

– Trevor Paglen