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Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki And Trevor Paglen Presented At Vertigo Of Reality

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Akademie der Künste, Berlin September 16 – December 14, 2014

How does today’s art alter reality? How do aesthetic production and political, social space interact with each other? With VERTIGO OF REALITY, the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, examines the construction and deconstruction of reality in the arts. The profound changes in artistic practice as a result of new media, in particular digitalization, have resulted in a stream of new strategies tackling how to construct or deconstruct reality in and with art, attempting to make a contribution to enlightenment and resistance through critical appraisal. The project seeks answers to the question of the beholder’s repositioning between artwork and reality, highlights key concepts such as participation and interactivity, and fathoms changes to our self-determination which affect all areas of modern life.

VERTIGO OF REALITY includes an extensive exhibition, the Metabolic Office for the Repair of Reality, and a packed program of events with more than 40 lectures, performances, conferences, concerts, workshops and guided tours. The exhibition presents artistic strategies and methods of working which focus on the viewer’s perception. The artwork materializes only in and through the viewers themselves.

Presented within this framework, VISIBILITY MACHINES explores the unique roles Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen play as meticulous observers of the global military industrial complex. Investigating forms of 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 affecting civilian life, 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 is curated by Niels Van Tomme and organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at UMBC, Baltimore. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Harun Farocki, 1944-2014.