ephemeropteræ 2017/#2 – J.M. Ledgard | Trevor Paglen

J.M. Ledgard – Photo: eSeL.at - Lorenz Seidler
Trevor Paglen – Photo: eSeL.at - Lorenz Seidler

J.M. Ledgard’s “Fathomless” recounts narratives of his biography. Since his childhood, Ledgard has been influenced by the life, colors, and storms on the surface of the North Atlantic. His thinking has long since drifted under the waves. His second novel includes a portrait of the deep ocean. He is now working with artist Olafur Eliasson, leading scientists to explore new ways of using conceptual art and literature to capture the crushing darkness that is the largest living space in our solar system. How can we know this other world in our world? “The deep ocean is confounding,” Ledgard says. “You have no breath in it, no light, and consequently no imaginable human life, yet it is immutable, and when you stack it up you find it is nearly all the living space on the planet. What I want to do is alter our perspective of Earth, to show that dirt is precious but seawater dominates, and to step out onto a meadow is rare while to float and scintillate with bioluminescence is common.”
In “Your Pictures are Looking at You…” American artist Trevor Paglen meditates on the global dominance of invisible images. From smart cities monitoring traffic flows to quality control systems in factories and the immense repositories of photographs on social media that are continually mined for metadata by powerful artificial intelligence systems, we find ourselves in a world where most images are made by machines for other machines. The rise of computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence represents an acute break with the visual cultures of the past, rendering traditional forms of human-to-human seeing an exception to the rule. In this talk, Paglen will explore the world of seeing-machines, articulate how images have gone from passive representations to active agents, and outline some of the dangerous consequences for human societies.


J.M. Ledgard
is Scottish novelist and a leading thinker on risk, nature, and advanced technology in emerging economies. He has published two novels, Giraffe and Submergence, both New York Times Books of the Year, and a slender book of essays, Terra Firma. A Hollywood adaptation of Submergence by Wim Wenders will be released later this year. For most of his career he was a frontline foreign correspondent for The Economist, where he wrote leader stories from over 60 countries and several wars, including a decade in Africa. In 2012, he left The Economist to work on advanced technologies in poorer communities. As a director at the avant-garde École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne he invented a “droneport” concept for Africa using flying robots, bringing in Norman Foster as design lead. He is now working to raise a fund to make investments in robot and artificial intelligence across the Equatorial belt of the planet.

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures. Paglen has had one-person exhibitions at Vienna Secession, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Van Abbe Museum, Frankfurter Kunstverein, and Protocinema Istanbul, and participated in group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, and numerous other venues. He has launched an artwork into distant orbit around Earth in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT, contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award–winning film Citizenfour, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. Paglen’s work has been profiled in the New York Times, Vice, the New Yorker, and Artforum. In 2014, he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award for his work as a “groundbreaking investigative artist” and in 2015, he was the recipient of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie’s Kulturpreis. In 2016, he received the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. Paglen holds a BA from UC Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a PhD in Geography from UC Berkeley. http://www.paglen.com
June 9, 2017 at 7 pm
TBA21–Augarten, Scherzergasse 1A, 1020 Vienna
free admission
supported by
Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein