Jonathan Knapp
Since 2006
Works in Berkeley United States of America

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Artist and Curator in Conversation: Nayland Blake and Lawrence Rinder

Sun Oct 19, 2008 00:00 - Wed Oct 08, 2008

Lawrence Rinder, MATRIX curator from 1988 to 1998 and current director of BAM/PFA, joins artist Nayland Blake in conversation. Throughout his career, Nayland Blake’s work has explored the complexities of identity, race, relationships, and representation, and has revealed a diverse set of interests and concerns—from popular culture and Camp to the queer body in the age of AIDS and the legacy of racism in America. His early work was twice exhibited in MATRIX, in his psychoanalytically inspired solo installation The Schreber Suite and as part of the artist collective Group Material’s project The AIDS Timeline. In 1995, Blake and Rinder co-curated In a Different Light, a landmark BAM exhibition that considered the cultural resonances of gay, lesbian, and queer experience in a cross-generational context. Part of the MATRIX 30th Anniversary celebration.


Trevor Paglen: The Other Night Sky

Sun Jun 01, 2008 00:00 - Fri May 09, 2008

Photography is an act of concentrated seeing, and by extension an act of knowing. Its origins are intrinsically linked to the idea of the “document,” although our understanding of both the uses and abuses of photography has expanded over the years as its possibilities for recording image and event have been debated and manipulated. Trevor Paglen is interested in the idea of photography as a kind of truth-telling, but his pictures often stop short of documentation, with their blurry subjects and barely discernible detail. Paglen’s nearly constant subject is the “black world” of the United States government, and through research and visualization he attempts to outline the edges and folds of this hidden world of military and intelligence activities. Whether photographing secret military bases from fifty miles away, or imaging spy satellites in the heavens from earth, Paglen’s photographs embody the limits of visibility, imposed both by the realities of physical distance and by informational obfuscation, that keep us as citizens from seeing and knowing these subjects on our own.

This black world is, of course, not meant to be seen, so Paglen, trained as both an artist and a geographer, deploys an array of tactics—from data analysis and on-the-ground exploration to long-distance photography and astronomy—to map this shadowy world. Paglen’s MATRIX exhibition looks to the night sky as a place of covert activity: working with data compiled by amateur astronomers and hobbyist “satellite observers,” cross-referenced across many sources of information, he tracks and presents what he calls “the other night sky.” Large-scale astro-photographs isolate barely perceptible traces of surveillance vessels amidst familiar star fields, and a digitally animated projection installation covers the globe with 189 currently orbiting satellites.

We have always contemplated the night sky with awe, envisioning ties to mythic pasts or inspirations of space-bound futures. The night sky of the present is pregnant with these associations at the same time that it is full of constellations of audio and visual surveillance satellites launched secretly by the United States government. The presence of these reconnaissance satellites in this “other night sky” is a symptom of recent adaptations to democratic society that have taken us an uneasy distance from the foundations of democracy upon which this country was built. Democracy and empiricism have shared roots in the Age of Enlightenment, when thinkers like Galileo and Newton looked to observable phenomena like the stars and planets in a quest for truth in the face of authoritarian institutions. Paglen looks upwards to the night sky, one of the oldest laboratories of rational thought, in order to visualize and document certain facts, looking for answers about truth and democracy in the present moment.

Trevor Paglen’s work has been exhibited at Transmediale.08 Festival, Berlin; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Kunstraum Muenchen, Munich; and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, among other venues. His work has been featured in numerous publications, from Wired to the New York Review of Books to Modern Painters and Aperture. His third book, Blank Spots on a Map, is forthcoming in late 2008 or early 2009. Paglen received his M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and this summer will receive his Ph.D. in geography from UC Berkeley. The Other Night Sky is Paglen’s first solo museum exhibition.

Elizabeth Thomas
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator

Produced with the support of Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology.

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Jane and Jeffrey Green, Joachim and Nancy Bechtle, Rena Bransten, Maryellen and Frank Herringer, Noel and Penny Nellis, James Pick and Rosalyn Laudati, Barclay and Sharon Simpson, Roselyne C. Swig, Paul L. Wattis III, Penelope Cooper and Rena Rosenwasser, Paul Rickert, Iris Shimada, and other generous donors.


Artists & Curator in Conversation — Mike Mandel, Larry Sultan, Constance Lewallen

Sun Jun 22, 2008 00:00 - Fri Apr 11, 2008

3:00 p.m., Museum Theater
Part of the BAM series MATRIX/REDUX
Continuing the series of public programs celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of MATRIX will be a conversation between former MATRIX artists Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan and former MATRIX Curator Constance Lewallen.


Artist’s Talk and Reception — Trevor Paglen: The Other Night Sky

Sun Jun 01, 2008 00:00 - Fri Apr 11, 2008

3:00 p.m., Museum Theater
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas will join Trevor Paglen for a discussion of his work.


Artists’ Talk — UC Berkeley M.F.A. Exhibition

Sun May 18, 2008 00:00 - Fri Apr 11, 2008

3:00 p.m., BAM Galleries