The Field Trip:

The Politics of Abstraction & The Abstraction of Politics

Hiding in plain sight, the San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island has served as a Civil War outpost, US Immigration Station, a Prisoner of War Processing Center, a Nike missile site, and currently, a California State Park. How do these rich historical narratives connect to current social debates? This one-day, roving symposium speculatied on contemporary politics, artistic abstraction, data visualization, and the military’s Cold War-era psychic spying program known as remote viewing. Created by the Center for Tactical Magic in partnership with SFMOMA and Angel Island California State Park, The Field Trip was led by Aaron Gach (co-founder of the Center for Tactical Magic), who was joined by an art curator (Dominic Willsdon), a park interpreter (Casey Dexter-Lee), a data visualizer (Josh Begley), an investigative journalist (Justine Sharrock), a former military remote viewer (Paul H. Smith), and an NSA whistleblower (Russ Tice) for a series of site-specific discussions, presentations, and exercises across the island. These multiple perspectives blurred the lines between seemingly disparate subjects as we explored the ways in which we, as individuals and as a society, represent information through technology, art, and facilitated visionary experiences.