Data is the new oil: the world’s most valuable resource. For this work, Paglen selected ten photographs from a database of thousands of images taken of military employees in the mid-1990s that the United States Department of Defense used to develop Face Recognition Technology. Faint letters mark the corners of each person’s eyes, nose, and lips. By comparing the features of different faces, an algorithm could be taught how to “see” and identify individuals. The more faces, the smarter the algorithm. Paglen shows that before social media, the military had begun to convert humans into ever-growing data sets that could power systems of surveillance and control.
Gallery label from 2022