New Exhibit at UC San Diego?s gallery@calit2 Explores Themes of 'Exposure' and Surveillance

March 26, 2008 / By Eduardo Navas, Gallery Coordinator, enavas@ucsd.ed

San Diego, CA, March 26, 2008  -- An art-meets-technology gallery on the University of California, San Diego campus will update and showcase a video installation that invites viewers to reconsider how reality changes as surveillance increasingly becomes a natural part of our everyday lives.

The gallery@calit2 is part of the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and it will exhibit Marie Sester's "Exposure" from April 10 to June 6, 2008.  The artist will lecture on April 10 at 4:30PM, and a reception will follow at 6PM.

A Video Installation about Surveillance Pre-9/11, by Marie Sester
April 10-June 6, 2008
Artist Lecture: April 10, 4:30-5:30 PM, Room 4004
Reception at 6 PM

“Exposure” is a projection-based installation consisting of images of X-rayed vehicles juxtaposed with architecture.  The installation was developed in 2001 as the fifth and last installment in a series of video-based work that explores how X-ray imagery was used for surveillance, pre-9/11.  

Marie Sester is interested in the evolving role of surveillance in culture. Sester argues that our culture is obsessed with hyper-vigilance and control. 

“Exposure” offers surveillance imagery consisting of X-rayed trucks containing smuggled items, such as a Rolls Royce, three million cigarettes embedded in scrap metal, and 2.5 tons of marijuana packed inside 896 rubber bales. In one of the projections, an X-rayed truck is elegantly juxtaposed with a house, which eventually overtakes the entire screen.  The house, located in northern California’s East Bay Hills, was scanned by laser.  The juxtaposition of an exposed private space and privately-owned commercial vehicles shows how technology can deliberately be used for surveillance, treating all forms with an egalitarian structural approach, while unexpectedly allowing the artist to expand the language of abstraction in art practice: the images are beautiful as forms, yet violent because they deconstruct the pervasive nature of X-ray technology when used as a form of control.

Exposure by Marie Sester
'Exposure' (2001), image still from second sequence, by
Marie Sester
“Exposure” was originally exhibited as part of the exhibition “Blind Vision: Video and Limits of Perception” at the San Jose Museum of Art from August 4 through November 14, 2001.   Coincidentally, the tragic events of 9/11 took place while the exhibition was on view.  “Exposure,” then, serves as a window to look back at the drastic adoption of emerging technologies to make surveillance a routine part of our lives since 2001.  Marie Sester reflects that today she, as an artist, would never have access to images like the ones included in “Exposure” due to the levels of control that entities, which she approached in the past, have placed on their surveillance technologies.

“Exposure” was originally designed to be a six-channel installation, and was commissioned as a two-channel installation by the San Jose Museum of Art. The gallery@calit2 will collaborate with Marie Sester and her assistant David Lawrence to turn the artwork into a three-channel installation with the use of contemporary technology currently developed and researched at Calit2.

X-ray Exposure
Still image from 'Exposure' shows X-rays of car carrier (rear) and contraband Rolls-Royce, images made available to the artist pre-9/11
“Exposure” was designed to be displayed with serial controllable DVD players – technology that is no longer efficient nor relevant. Calit2 is taking the opportunity to re-render the files in HD and manipulate them with a script that will play the sequences as a three-channel installation.  This research is spearheaded by Hector Bracho, Calit2’s Media Specialist, in collaboration with Joseph Keefe, Project Manager of the OptIPuter project (

The collaboration with Marie Sester extends the gallery@calit2’s interest in the nexus of innovation implicit in Calit2's vision, and aims to advance our understanding and appreciation of the dynamic interplay among art, science and technology.

Calit2 is a partnership between UC San Diego and UC Irvine, and houses over 1,000 researchers organized around more than 50 projects on the future of telecommunications and information technology and how these technologies will transform a range of applications important to the economy and citizens' quality of life. The institute has integrated new media arts into its cross-disciplinary agenda.

Artist Bio

Marie Sester is a media artist currently based in Los Angeles. Born in France, she began her career as an architect, having earned her Master’s degree from the Ecole d’Architecture in Strasbourg. Her interest shifted from how to build structures to the manner in which place, cultural values and political ideas are intertwined and affect our understanding of the world. Her work particularly questions the societal perspective of the West.

Marie Sester
Artist Marie Sester
Sester’s installation work has exhibited internationally, including in the Kwangju Biennale, Korea (1997); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1998); San Jose Museum of Art, USA (2001); SIGGRAPH, San Diego, USA (2003); Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (2003 and 2004); Villette Numérique, Paris, France (2004); ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2005); LABoral  Center for Art & Creative Industries, Gijon, Spain (2007); and Eyebeam, NY, USA (2007); among many other venues.

She has had residencies at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS), Japan (2002) and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) (2005). The artist has received grants from organizations including the New York State Council for the Arts (2003), LEF Foundation (2004), and Franklin Furnace Fund (2004).  Marie Sester is a Creative Capital Grantee (New York, 2002) for her installation “Access”.

Note to Editors: High-resolution still images from the video installation "Exposure" available on request to Eduardo Navas at .


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University of California, San Diego
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Related Links

Artist Website 
Online Information about “Exposure” 
Prior Interview with Marie Sester