From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly’ (Pictures and Labels)

For a 2019 commission in the Barbican’s Curve Gallery in London, I took a close look at the most widely-used “training set” used in AI – ImageNet, a database of over 14 million images organized into more than twenty-thousand categories. The installation was made out of approximately 30,000 individually printed photographs, showing the precarious relationshipsContinue reading “From ‘Apple’ to ‘Anomaly’ (Pictures and Labels)”

They Took the Faces…

Contemporary facial-recognition algorithms were first properly researched in the early 1990s. To conduct that research, computer scientists and software engineers need large collections of faces to experiment with and to use as performance benchmarks. Before the advent of social media, a common source of faces for this research and development came from mugshots of accusedContinue reading “They Took the Faces…”

Eagle-Eye Photo Contest

While photographing and shooting a video of NSA infrastructures in Germany for Laura Poitras’ film Citizenfour, I was stopped and interrogated by police and military on a nearly daily basis. Although what I was doing was perfectly legal, the military still insisted on harassing me while I was doing my job. My response was toContinue reading “Eagle-Eye Photo Contest”

Training Humans

I conceptualized this exhibition with Kate Crawford to tell a story about the history of images used to ‘recognize’ humans in computer vision and AI systems. We weren’t interested in either the hyped, marketing version of AI nor the tales of dystopian robot futures. We wanted to engage with the materiality of AI, and toContinue reading “Training Humans”

Sites Unseen

Sites Unseen was a major solo exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum curated by John P. Jacob, where I presented my early photographic series alongside more recent sculptural objects and new work with AI. With this exhibition I continued my contribution to the ongoing conversation about privacy and surveillance in contemporary society. There wasContinue reading “Sites Unseen”

Shoshone Falls

This is a photograph of an iconic location in the history of Western landscape photography. The 19th Century photographer Timothy O’Sullivan famously shot these falls on a survey mission for the American Department of War. His images of this waterfall are some of his most iconic works and some of the most well-known images ofContinue reading “Shoshone Falls”

An Entangled Bank

“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth.” So begins the last paragraph of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. For Darwin, life is not reducible to bitsContinue reading “An Entangled Bank”

A Dictionary of Volapük

In 1879 in Baden, Germany, Father Johann Martin Schleyer created a universal language at the behest of God, speaking to Schleyer in a dream. He called this new language Volapük or “World Speak.” Volapük was a simple language meant to give Catholic readers from different linguistic backgrounds an easier time reading aloud from the Bible.Continue reading “A Dictionary of Volapük”

The Narbona Panel; Humans Seen Through a Predator Drone

In 1805, Antonio de Narbona led an expedition of Spanish soldiers, accompanied by allied Native Americans, into Canyon de Chelly in the Navajo Nation to attack the Navajo tribe. When the Navajo learned of Narbona’s impending arrival, they scaled the canyon’s vertical cliffs, finding refuge in a cave where the Spanish could not reach them.Continue reading “The Narbona Panel; Humans Seen Through a Predator Drone”

Demonstration of Eating, Licking, and Drinking

This is one of my all-time favorite images. When I showed it to filmmaker Werner Herzog, he concurred and added that he believed it belonged “next to the Mona Lisa.” Demonstration of Eating, Licking, and Drinking was produced by a team of scientists at Cornell University to be included on the Voyager Golden Record, aContinue reading “Demonstration of Eating, Licking, and Drinking”