REMOTE SENSING (2014)
SCA Galleries, University of Sydney
Following revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, American artist Trevor Paglen photographed three high security intelligence facilities in the US including the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. In contrast to the secrecy surrounding the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, Paglen posted these images in the public domain, saying they can be used by anyone.
Remote Sensing takes Paglen’s image of the NSA and shows a small section at a time on a specially designed interactive trolley. The user can move the trolley left and right, forward and backward to reveal adjoining parts, but the larger image outside the frame remains invisible. It’s as if a virtual image were mapped onto the floor but you can only see the section directly beneath the movable trolley.
The aim was to slow viewing down and explore different modes of ‘seeing’: intense scrutiny, remembering and anticipation, and the subsequent compositing of discrete image elements into a virtual whole. All play a part in piecing together the larger image but they also frustrate the idea of an instantaneous ‘comprehensive’ reading.
Remote Sensing was presented in The Sceptical Image group exhibition as part of The Image in Question interdisciplinary international conference at University of Sydney.
REMOTE SENSING - video documentation
CREDITS: Margaret Seymour - concept and design, Dr Andrew Burrell - interactive programming.