Tiffany Funk's proliferation treatise | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Tiffany Funk's proliferation treatise

"Packing Heat" exposes the military tech we all live with

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Unmanned aerial drones have gotten lots of attention over the last few years on account of Barack Obama's enthusiasm for using them to kill people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But in a recent New Yorker article Nick Paumgarten reports on their increasing appeal for domestic security. That's a troubling notion—though Paumgarten quotes a tech CEO as observing, way back in 1999, that we have "zero privacy anyway." Last Friday morning somebody posted a video to YouTube showing a drone allegedly flying over Elgin. The Pentagon "would not confirm or deny" that the machines had been deployed to keep tabs on NATO protesters, Fox News advised. Slate called the video a hoax, but the electronic rumor mill kept turning.

War being a perennial national entertainment, artistic commentary on the subject can be said to be timely just about all the time. Still, Tiffany Funk's new show, "Packing Heat," is especially so because it focuses narrowly on the "proliferation of military technology in everyday life." Like the drone, for instance. Funk's Portraits (Terminators) is a video projection consisting of 49 photos of young men's faces, but with bionic overlays (laser eyes, alloy jaws) on their features a la The Terminator. We peer into their bedrooms and see them transformed. A series called .jpg Tomography presents five heads depicted as luminous terrain in the manner of an MRI, and in "Rorschach," from the series .jpg Anatomy, what may be an anatomical drawing of the human body is obscured by multicolored electronic fuzz. Cracking the mysteries of the mind used to require training and talk, but this latter-day ink blot is just code for a computer to read.

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