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Trace Recordings

By Andrew Frost


When intelligence analyst Edward Snowden gave stolen classified documents to The Guardian that revealed a massive, worldwide covert operation to monitor civilian and government email, web and telephone communications by the US National Security Agency, the pervasive reaction wasn’t so much shock as a shrug. Pretty much everyone already believed we were under surveillance and this was simply the proof.


The exhibition Trace Recordings at UTS Gallery attempts to turn the camera back against the watchers. Curated by Holly Williams and Chris Gaul, the show features works including Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Stranger Visions in which the artist, using DNA samples gleaned from discarded cigarette butts and chewing gum, produces portraits of strangers.  Trevor Paglen’s They Watch The Moon is photograph of a surveillance installation that listens to radio signals that have bounced off the Moon. Shinseungback Kimyonghun‘s Memory creates a composite portrait of everyone who views the work. While the artists’ highlight and attempt alter the parameters of surveillance technology, the exhibition also reveals that there’s an aesthetic of surveillance that seems inseparable from everyday life.


Until November 28

UTS Gallery, Ultimo


Pic:  Trevor Paglen, They Watch the Moon, 2010. Digital c-type print. Image courtesy the artist.

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