Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Laura Poitras: Astro Noise, Whitney Museum

Bed Down Location is mix-media installation created by Laura Poitras, a well-known filmmaker and storyteller who opens her first solo exhibition Astro Noise on the eight floor of Whitney Museum. Bed Down Location provides a very special experience participants can lay on a raised platform together. A virtual sky video is projected to the celling in a dark gallery space.

 Different kind of voices can be heard, wind, leaves shaking and bird sound, when laying down. These voice sound quiet but give visitors more complicated feeling: magic, panic and discomposure because it is in a dark room, not forest. However, no one will think about surveillance unless reading the statement on the wall outside the exhibition. The night skies are recorded in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, countries where the U.S military conducts ”targeted killings” using unmanned aircraft.

This is the most successful apart of the work that lets people face the truth: surveillance has become ubiquitous. People gaze at a pure and peaceful sky. Yet we live under the same official monitoring by our own government. Surveillance is here whatever the country is overwhelmed by the violent war or the peaceful social media. Surveillance is here no matter the country is peaceful or overwhelmed by war.   


  1. You bring up some of the most interesting points about Poitras work. I enjoy how you highlight the innocence of the "Bed Down Locations" piece, as I also found it to be the most powerful. However I think you could be a little more descriptive of how the specific theme of surveillance plays into this particular piece. It is a strong feeling that the artist is trying to relay to the audience, and your piece may be stronger if you highlight this factor more than you alluded to. It may also help if you introduce the piece by more directly talking about the show as a whole first.

  2. I also enjoyed the immersive and comfortable environment. When people can’t see well in darkness, they assume no one is watching them. This piece silently shouts about overlooked issues of surveillance.
    Everyone gets tricked by the tiny thermal camera. It films without anyone's knowledge. It's only when you step out to the last section of the exhibition. Without a doubt, when people discover that they were being watched and filmed, they cannot repress their astonishment.
    I think you should definitely mention the mini thermal camera in the center of the screen.