Press Release: Marie Sester

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

Atkinson Hall
University of California, San Diego
Map & Directions:

April 10-June 6, 2008
Monday to Friday: 11 AM to 5 PM
Artist Talk: April 10, 4:30-5:30 PM, Room 4004
Followed by reception at 6 PM

Text: "Exposure" Pre-9/11
Marie Sester Interview: Access, Transparency and Visibility in "Exposure"
By Eduardo Navas, Gallery Coordinator

Press Release, March 25, 2008

Sester Sequence 2

The gallery@calit2, part of the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), will exhibit "Exposure", a video installation by Marie Sester, from April 10 to June 6, 2008.  The artist will lecture on April 10 at 4:30PM, and a reception will follow at 6PM. "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.  Her installations invite viewers to reconsider how reality changes as surveillance increasingly becomes a natural part of our everyday lives. 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" 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.

Image still from second sequence

"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. gallery@calit2 will collaborate with Marie Sester and her assistant David Lawrence to turn this artwork into a three-channel installation with the use of contemporary technology currently developed and researched at Calit2.

"Exposure" was designed to be displayed with serial controllable DVD players -- technology that is neither 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 work 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.

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 Numerique, Paris, France (2004); ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2005); LABoral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industrial, Gijon, Spain (2007); Eyebeam, NY, USA (2007); and 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"


Arist website:
Online information about "Exposure":
Prior interview with the artist: