Traces | MoMA R&D Salon 43 | MoMA LIVE

Traces considers the markings, echoes, or remnants that record the fleeting existence of an event, thing, or person. In most cases, the traces we value are those that can be verified and validated, and thereby formally documented within established systems of legitimization. With recent advances in artificial intelligence especially, what was previously considered to be evidence can no longer evade our rightful caution and suspicion. A photograph, for example, cannot automatically be assumed to be a factual and objective documentation of a live event—and now neither can a voice recording, video, or signature. Under this crisis of truth, we must reevaluate and reconsider what traces we can trust and what knowledge we can depend on.

Some of the questions we will ask: What can previously overlooked traces tell us about past people, places, things, and events? What new forms of knowledge can be produced by paying attention to those traces that we previously looked past? How must we rethink the representation we trust to hold truth in the current age of falsification? What new literacies must we develop to become more attuned to the latent yet unseen traces around us? Does every object, event, or person leave a trace? How can we learn to see the unseen? Can knowledge about the traces left behind be more impactful than knowledge about the thing itself? How can we become more aware of the traces we leave behind, whether they are social, emotional, environmental, ecological, etc?

The evening will commence with a brief introduction by Paola Antonelli, followed by equally brief presentations by – here in alphabetical order:

Crystal Z Campbell: is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descent. Campbell engages with material, archival, and sonic traces of the witness through film/video, live performance, installation, sound, painting and texts.

Sarah Johnson: is a biologist, geochemist, astronomer and planetary scientist whose research is driven by the underlying goal of understanding the presence and preservation of biosignatures within planetary environments.

Susan Meiselas: is a documentary photographer and the President of the Magnum Foundation whose work constantly considers the challenging relationship between photographer and subject, and the relationship of images to memory and history.

Jorge Otero-Pailos: is the Director and Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and an architect, artist, and theorist specializing in experimental forms of preservation employing the material residues of our modernity to render their invisible meanings visible.

Christiaan Triebert: is a journalist with The New York Times’ Visual Investigations team, which combines traditional reporting with digital sleuthing and open source methods. He was a senior investigator and lead trainer at the investigative group Bellingcat and worked throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

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The presentations will be accompanied by the screening of a series of short videos cut specifically for Salon 43 by: Katja Heitmann, Stefan Helmreich, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Dragan Espenschied, Christina Varvia, and Susan Schuppli.

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The comments and opinions expressed in this video are those of the speakers alone, and do not represent the views of The Museum of Modern Art, its personnel, or any artist.

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