Jimmy Baker's upcoming show in New York, The Captives, is rewiring found objects and familiar scenes to construct a flow of emotion and thought on the costs of progress and the relationship between war and technology.
Two of the works particularly called my attention:
In Ghost (picture on the left), two skeletal arms hold CD players. Each plays a disc with the image of an abductee upon it. On one CD, Baker plays a Slayer song on drums, while on the other Eminem rages against war. Both tracks are overlaid with news reports of Slayer and Eminem's music being used in psychological torture sessions.
Controlled Room is a series of photographs, gleaned from Google Earth, of CIA detainment camps from across the globe. Evoking a war nerve center, the work not only documents sites of inhumanity, but it also explores the growing functionality of the Internet as a dynamic archive of human activity. The viewer becomes a voyeur, witness, and supervisor all at once.
Much in the same spirit, the work of Trevor Paglen who has spent the past five years collecting evidences (using what he calls limit telephotography strategies) of the existence of secret military bases. The US governement has recently acknowledged the existence (but not locations) of these secret prisons (often called Black sites) overseas.
The artist recently co-authored a book on CIA's torture taxis, airplanes chartered to circumvent human rights laws by carrying out tortuous interrogations of bogusly-imprisoned and untried subjects, in air. His collaboration with the Institute for Applied Autonomy has led to artistic visualization of otherwise dire data sets.
Paglen's videos, and images and other information, including a rare collection of patches and symbols worn by people working on secret military programs and forged signatures from the corporate documents of CIA front companies, are on view at New York's Bellwether gallery, through December 23 (via rhizome.)