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Lake Tenaya Maximally Stable Extremal

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Lake Tenaya Maximally Stable Extremal, 2016, by Trevor Paglen

Lake Tenaya Maximally Stable Extremal Regions; Hough Transform, 2016

Dye sublimation print | 48" x 60"
Location:  First Floor Lobby | Installed September 2018

Denning House has acquired two works by the artist Trevor Paglen: the three-piece series Matterhorn (How to See Like a Machine) Brute-Force Descriptor Matcher; Scale Invariant Feature Transform, (2016); and Lake Tenaya Maximally Stable Extremal, (2016). These dye sublimation prints consider the ways that machines understand images, and the gap between recognition and understanding. 

Lake Tenaya Maximally Stable Extremal Regions; Hough Transform, 2016 is from an ongoing body of work Trevor Paglen is producing that explores artificial intelligence (AI) while simultaneously employing the traditional genre of landscape photography. After traveling Yosemite National Park to photograph Lake Tenaya, Paglen ran different algorithmic scripts on top of his photograph to simulate the way a machine might decipher the landscape. The process illuminates the gap between recognition and understanding, pointing out an inherent disconnect in AI. A computer may be able to identify what it is seeing but is not able to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of a magnificent landscape. By way of contrast, Paglen highlights the magnificence of emotion and understanding in the human brain—elements that can't be replicated by a computer.

About the artist

Trevor Paglen  b. 1974, Camp Springs, Maryland, United States 

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines.

Paglen’s work has had one-person exhibitions at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Fondazione Prada, Milan; the Barbican Centre, London; Vienna Secession, Vienna; and Protocinema Istanbul, and participated in group exhibitions the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, and numerous other venues. 

Paglen 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.

Paglen is the author of several books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, artificial intelligence, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. Paglen’s work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, the Financial Times, Art Forum, and Aperture. In 2014, he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award and in 2016, he won the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Paglen was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2017. 

Paglen holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography from U.C. Berkeley.

He lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

art on wall