Artist Trevor Paglen’s time-exposure photographs show the streaks of light left by classified satellites.
Photo: Trevor Paglen
BERKELEY, California — For most people, photographing something that isn’t there might be tough. Not so for Trevor Paglen.
His shots of 189 secret spy satellites are the subject of a new exhibit — despite the fact that, officially speaking, the satellites don’t exist. The Other Night Sky, on display at the University of California at Berkeley Art Museum through September 14, is only a small selection from the 1,500 astrophotographs Paglen has taken thus far.
In taking these photos, Paglen is trying to draw a metaphorical connection between modern government secrecy and the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Galileo’s time.
“What would it mean to find these secret moons in orbit around the earth in the same way that Galileo found these moons that shouldn’t exist in orbit around Jupiter?” Paglen says.
Satellites are just the latest in Paglen’s photography of supposedly nonexistent subjects. To date, he’s snapped haunting images of various military sites in the Nevada deserts, “torture taxis” (private planes that whisk people off to secret prisons without judicial oversight) and uniform patches from various top-secret military programs.
The nearly vertical streak in this image shows a satellite called Keyhole 12-3 crossing the sky near the constellation of Scorpio. Photo: Trevor Paglen
While all of Paglen’s projects are the result of meticulous research, he’s also the first to admit that his photos aren’t necessarily revelatory. That’s by design. Like the blurry abstractions of his super-telephoto images showing secret military installations in Nevada, the tiny blips of satellites streaking across the night sky in his new series of photos are meant more as reminders rather than as documentation. Continue reading »
Tags: Government, Military, satellite, satellite surveillance, spy satellites, Surveillance, Torture, U.S.