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The sprawling multidisciplinary works by Trevor Paglen at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen are said to expose the frameworks of secrecy. It’s a bracing premise, often delivered brilliantly—Paglen was a 2017 MacArthur “genius” grantee—but sometimes in a way that’s overwrought. Paglen, a native of Camp Springs, Maryland, has cleverly documented California’s Pelican Bay State Prison with the unnatural, glowing red and orange light it emits. In a neat turn of the tables, he’s developed an inspired system to locate and photograph spy satellites, located the drab undersea cables that form the backbone of the internet, and photographed classified military sites from legal distances, producing images that range from heavily pixelated to dreamily Rothko-esque. Unfortunately, Paglen’s relentless focus on secrecy sometimes seems hyped and, for those so inclined, can feed a conspiratorial appetite. Meanwhile, his recent forays into artificial intelligence are promising but often technically inscrutable. The finest of his recent work is more visceral: a milky green cube composed of materials from New Mexico’s Trinity nuclear test site and the Fukushima reactor disaster, to be viewable at Fukushima only once safety allows. Read more>>> The exhibition is on view to Jan. 6, 2019 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW. Free. (202) 633-7970. americanart.si.edu. (Louis Jacobson)
OH AND ALSO
Grammy-winning roots and blues artist Fantastic Negrito performs at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. 8 p.m. at 600 I St. NW. $20–$25.
Union Stage hosts DMVtrackstars, a showcase for local artists, bands, and producers to perform for a panel and earn feedback on their performances, including track reviews and beat battles. 8 p.m. at 740 Water St. SW. Free.
Pop singer Charlie Puth performs with fellow pop singer and Oscar-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap. 8 p.m. at 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. $35–$75.
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