Trevor Paglen Copyright Paglen Studio, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Artist Keynote with Trevor Paglen, Berlin and San Francisco, CA

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AutoUpdate: Photography in the Electronic Age Speakers and Schedule

Posted on August 1, 2019

The FotoFocus day-long symposium, AutoUpdate: Photography in the Electronic Age held at The Carnegie in Northern Kentucky on Saturday, October 5, will feature lectures and panel discussions from international artists, curators, journalists, and educators. The symposium invites speakers to review photography’s part in the current global crisis of information exchange; the fate of documentary filmmaking in a “post-truth” age; and offers a historical and philosophical assessment of digital imaging, past and future.

Preeminent artist Trevor Paglen will be the keynote speaker, addressing the symposium’s theme of digital technology’s impact on photography and its disruption of art making and news cycles in a media obsessed world. Paglen’s experimental work frequently combines photography with other disciplines, like science and engineering, to examine our current reality and imagine alternative futures. He is joined on the schedule by three other distinguished artists: Nancy BursonLynn Hershman Leeson, and Josh Kline.

Paglen Burson, FotoFocus Cincinnati
Left: Trevor Paglen, “Weil” (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017. Right: Nancy Burson, Trump Putin, 2018

Program Schedule

9:45amOpening Remarks

Panel: Curators and The Digital Museum
Co-Moderated by Carissa Barnard, FotoFocus Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Programming, Cincinnati, OH and Matt Distel, Exhibitions Director, The Carnegie, Covington, KY with AutoUpdate Exhibition Jurors: Alice Gray Stites, Museum Director and Chief Curator, 21c Museum Hotels, Louisville and Lexington, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Chicago, IL; Bentonville, AR; Des Moines, IA; Durham, NC; Oklahoma City, OK; Kansas City and Saint Louis, MO; and Nashville, TN; Jo-ey Tang, Director of Exhibitions, Beeler Gallery, Columbus College of Art & Design, OH; and Michael Vetter, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, Newfields, Indianapolis, IN

In the face of ever-evolving and emerging technologies, how does the traditional museum model support contemporary digital art making practices? Can it? Or does the online digital world experience create a new type of museum?


Conversation: Digital Evolution/Digital Revolution
Kevin Moore, FotoFocus Artistic Director, New York, NY in conversation with Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography, New York, NY

Since writing the first article for the New York Times Magazine on the possibilities and perils of the coming digital revolution in photography, in 1984, and publishing the first book on the subject, In Our Own Image, in 1990, Fred Ritchin has been involved with both anticipating future developments in digital imaging and finding new and transformative strategies for both visual artists and documentarians in a more expansive sense of photography. This discussion will focus on the challenges posed by digital imaging since the 1980s, and on its unmet potentials yet to be explored.


Panel: Deepfake News
Moderated by Dean Kissick, Writer and New York Editor of Spike Quarterly, New York, NY, with panelists: Elisabeth Bik, PhD, Microbiome and Science Integrity Consultant, San Francisco, CA; and Rob Horning, Editor, New York, NY

In recent years, photo- and video-editing software has grown ever more advanced and photography has become weaponized. For instance, subtly altered images have been found in science journals for questionable agendas. Building upon the frequently catastrophic effects of fake news, the rise of the deepfake—a video or an image that has been seamlessly manipulated using deep learning artificial intelligence—threatens not only to disrupt news cycles, but to critically undermine our understanding of what’s real and not real.

1pmLunch Break

Comment by Nancy Burson: Seeing is Believing
Nancy Burson, Artist, New York, NY

From her early invention of facial morphing, Burson’s work explores the boundaries of legibility in photographic imagery and the overwhelming human desire to make sense of what we see.


Panel: Artists in the Forest of Signs
Moderated by Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY with panelists: Josh Kline, Artist, New York, NY; and Lynn Hershman Leeson, Artist, San Francisco, CA and New York, NY

In a world of vastly expanded image technologies, artists face more and more complex choices as they navigate between real and virtual, form and data, signs and codes, human interpretation, and artificial intelligence.


Panel: Documentary Filmmaking: Observing Outside the Lines
Moderated by Toby Lee, Artist, Anthropologist, and Assistant Professor, Department of Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, New York, NY, with panelists: Jacqueline Goss, Filmmaker and Professor of Film and Electronic Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; and Christopher Harris, Filmmaker and Professor of Cinematic Arts, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

In an era of ideologically driven news campaigns, documentary filmmaking is enjoying a resurgence due to its privileged relationship to the real, engaging—at times counter-intuitively—innovative techniques for conveying a director’s own sense of truth.


Artist Keynote with Trevor Paglen
Trevor Paglen, Artist, Berlin and San Francisco, CA

MacArthur Genius Grant awardee Trevor Paglen investigates mass surveillance and data collection in an effort to see the historical moment we live in and imagine alternative futures.