Art and Power

In the ArtReview article, Trevor Paglen, the author, Oliver Basciano, has a deep and detailed interview with the American artist, geographer, and journalist, Trevor Paglen. In this interview, Basciano is fascinated by Paglen’s art and his subject matter about the property owned by the government or the state to control and monitor the public, taking large-formatted photographs of baseball stadiums, surveillance bases, and even the moon with drones. Paglen even learned how to dive in the ocean just to be able to take photographs of the transatlantic cables that connect the Internet. Therefore, Basciano asks question about Paglen’s perspective on politics, power, art in marketing, and art’s future in technology to have better idea of what his mission truly was when taking these photographs.

Basciano starts off the first part of the interview straight and to the point. He asks Paglen, about power and politics. In a sense, this would probably be my first set of questions as well, because I would want to know what he thinks about art, activism, and government. Paglen says that the point of his art is not about “standing up to power(government)”, that is basically just an end result when the audience sees the era of History we live in.  He goes on to say that his activism is political in the sense that his art gives attention to one subject matter over another. As the interview goes on, Paglen gives a description what he thinks power really is. To him, it is not government; it is just a system that we are all a part of. He says that power is basically “trying to do things in the world”. I think of this “power” when seeing Paul McCarthy wanting to offend people with his Buttplug Santa.

The second part of the interview is Basciano asking him questions about the balance between art and business. Paglen says that we still barely use technology as a means of business.  He says that inefficiency comes from the marketers being art historians, critics, etc. that do not understand marketing tactics. I think his point is somewhat true because of the fact not many are using art for business. One of the only people that use art as a brand and marketing tactic is Takashi Murakami. One example would be from his 13 year collaboration with Louis Vuitton.

Image result for trevor paglen surveillance base

Trevor Paglen, National Security Agency Surveillance Base, Bude, Cornwall, UK, 2014, c-print, 122 × 163 cm. Courtesy the artist; Metro Pictures, New York; and Altman Siegel, San Francisco

Jwan Boddie


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