Being in Two Places at Once: Art and the geopolitics of remote sensing

infrared night vision photo of a pack of wolves

Image: Steve Rowell, Uncanny Sensing (Wisconsin Prototype), 2013

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Being in Two Places at Once:
Art and the geopolitics of remote sensing

Tuesday 20 March 2018
9:30am – 7pm
NYU Tisch Dean’s Conference Room
721 Broadway, 12th Floor 


Scales and subjectivities of vision and photography are transforming under the influence of remote-sensing arrays, machine visions, and global observation systems. Computational and composite photography capture not just an image in time, but also in space, permitting 1:1 digitization and replication of spatial objects, bodies, and landscapes. Remote sensing offers at once extended apparatuses of viewing, feeling, and operating in the world, as well as expanded dynamics of population control. These large-scale spatial mapping technologies are primarily deployed, administered, and understood by economically dominant world powers and multinational scientific consortia. Asymmetrical power relations are thus reproduced and amplified at the planetary scale. There is an urgency for these images and models to be legible to wider publics and constituencies than solely at the levels of industry, military, and governance.

How can artists operate within these scales of perception for new imaginative and political potential? What kinds of interventions, trespasses, transformative subjectivities are occurring through the deliberate decolonization and appropriation of networks of remote sensing by those on the peripheries of power?

Session One

9:30 – 10 am
Welcome & Introduction
Caitlin Berrigan, artist
NYU Tisch Photography & Imaging

10 – 11 am
Steve Rowell, artist, researcher, educator
Kansas City Art Institute

Saadia Mirza, architect and anthropologist
University of Chicago

11:15 am – 12:15 pm
Sasha Engelmann, geographer
Royal Holloway University, London & Centre for GeoHumanities

Jol Thomson, paraethnographer, artist and researcher
University of Westminster, London

Karen Barad, physicist, philosopher, critical social theorist
University of California Santa Cruz

12:30 – 1:30 pm
Karen Holmberg, archaeologist, volcanologist
NYU Institute for Public Knowledge

Alexandre Girardeau, artist
HWY101 Experiential TechGnology, New York City

Lunch     1:30 – 2:30 pm

Session Two

2:45pm – 3:15pm
Remote Calibration
Haseeb Ahmed, artist
Zurich University of the Arts

3:30 – 4:30 pm
Tyler Coburn, artist
New York City

Madeleine Clare Elish, anthropologist of science and technology
Data & Society, New York

4:45 – 5:45 pm
Morehshin Allahyari, artist, activist
New York City

Alexander Provan, writer and editor
Triple Canopy, New York City

6 – 7 pm
Heather Davis, scholar
McGill University, Montreal

Nicholas Mirzoeff, activist, academic
NYU Media, Culture, and Communication

With the additional participation of:

Dana Karwas, designer
NYU Tandon Technology, Culture and Society

Toby Lee, artist and scholar
NYU Cinema Studies

This project was supported in part by a grant from the New York University Arts Council. It is co-sponsored by the Department of Photography & Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, the Tandon School of Engineering Technology, Culture & Society Department, and the Tisch Creative Research Initiative.

Special thanks to Vice Provost Ulrich Baer, Tisch School of the Arts Dean Allyson Green, Deborah Willis, Jonathan Soffer, Dana Whitco, and the Department of Cinema Studies.