"Cached Landscapes" is an experimental photographic project, searching for the visual traces of our everyday online travels by analyzing hidden image files extracted from private system folders of personal computers. The depicted images have been collected while virtually visiting surveillance related signals-intelligence locations (SIGINT) researched and published by Trevor Paglen in mid 2015.
Unless manually picked out of the hidden system folders of our devices, by default a huge amount of fragmented and decontextualized image files is silently archived and stored in our computer's browser cache everytime we visit a website or a map on the internet.
While the automatically collected images of the browser cache are clearly documenting every step we are doing online, for the human eye the algorithmically cropped and poorly sorted files transform into an abstract grid without any further information.
„Cached Landscapes“ can be translated both, as "hidden" landscapes showing Paglen's places of surveillance, as well as our invisibly tracked and "stored" data that is constantly accumulated and processed on connected servers and our personal computers.
"Cached Landscapes" has been awarded by Trevor Paglen and Frankfurter Kunstverein with the "Eagle Eye" Photo Award and exhibited along Paglen's solo show "The Octopus" at Frankfurter Kunstverein in mid 2015.
Cached Landscapes / Objects of Surveillance #5 - Niederhausen (2015)
Screen capture: writing data into the browser cache while virtually visiting identified signals-inteligence locations in google maps.
"Spying on the Spies – With Google Maps (...) Freier didn’t take the photos, or even the screenshots featured in his elaborate composite images. All of them were pulled from a subfolder holding a thumbnail cache of every web page he visits." // WIRED.com, Jakob Schiller, 07.2015
"In Cached Landscapes Freier establishes that his "own" computer (a moving claim to possession) deposits hidden thumbnails of each of his steps on Google Maps, that he is, therefore, being spied on by his own software while exploring potential surveillance stations." // Magazine L. Fritz, Urs Stahel, 08.2018
"This provides an insight into how our data is handled by companies like Google. Visits are documented and saved in the browser cache, but then the information is broken up and stored in a nonsensical and abstract grid." // WIRED UK, Katie Collins, 07.2015
"Freier's images of secret data collection centers have a lot in common with the data that the NSA collects: They appear nonsensical at first, but they actually contain some meaningful information about the appearance of these sites." // Fast Company, Sophie Weiner, 06.2015
"Freier's series offers a meta-commentary on the automated tracking of individuals’ download histories and browser caches, revealing the online implications of Paglen’s appeal for surveillance transparency." // VICE creatorsproject, Sami Emory, 06.2015
Geo locations of SIGNT stations, researched and published by Trevor Paglen in Germany in 2015