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Artist ID: 2231

My research and creative work are in dialog with the growing field of scholarship that critically examines bias in technology. Photography was the 19th Century technology associated with objective truth. Technological objectivity similarly exists today in big data, algorithms, and machine intelligence. Much like the built environment, technology is framed as neutral. I critically examine this assumption in architecture and technology, just as objective truth in photography has been scrutinized throughout the 20th Century.
Recently my work has focused on Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). LiDAR scanning uses a laser to measure distances and generate virtual three-dimensional models of environments called point clouds. This technology is often used alongside cameras to help autonomous devices navigate their surroundings. The creative work resulting from this research, Through the Swift, Black Night (2019–present), uses still images of LiDAR-generated point clouds to represent views of the rural landscape from the perspective of machine vision. This began by collaborating with colleagues at Virginia Tech to use a LiDAR scanner to record and render 360-degree scenes of nearby forests. In 2020 I was awarded a residency at Signal Culture in Owego, NY, which supports artists and researchers working with experimental media. I used my time there to build an open source LiDAR scanner to continue this work.

Photography in the 21st Century occupies a paradoxical position between its legacy as an accurate representation of reality and the extensive potential for its manipulation. My work is a visual parallel to the genre of near-future science fiction, which depicts a familiar, not so distant future with slight but meaningful variations. I use the perceived truthfulness of the photograph combined with subtle digital manipulations. These constructed photographs create visual narratives about emerging technology in rural areas rather than the urban settings of most science fiction.

Michael Borowski (he/him) is an artist living and working in occupied Tutelo/Moneton land (Blacksburg, Virginia). He works with an expanded photographic practice, critically examining architecture, technology, and the environment to show that design is not neutral, but reflects political values, personal biases, and desires. His work has been included in national and international exhibitions, and is a 2019 recipient of a Graham Foundation grant. He received his MFA from the University of Michigan, and a BFA from the University of New Mexico. Michael is currently the Chair of Studio Art and Assistant Professor of Photography at Virginia Tech.

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