At an event in Nevada this past Friday,
was reflecting on American attitudes toward spaceflight. “We think of space like we think of Nevada,” he said. When we dream of colonizing planets and mining asteroids, “we recapitulate the frontier,” extending it to outer space.
To combat this relationship to our solar system, Paglen, who was just awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, is collaborating with the Nevada Museum of Art, in Reno, for the planned launch of a satellite in 2018. Unlike the thousands of satellites currently in orbit, this one, Orbital Reflector, will have no commercial, military, or scientific purpose. Rather, it will be a public sculpture visible from Earth to the naked eye.
Paglen was presenting his Orbital Reflector at the 2017 Art + Environment (A+E) Conference, held at the Nevada Museum. Though borne out of Paglen’s research into classified satellites, this work is fundamentally about the plight of our planet. The prevailing attitudes toward space exploration, he said, are “a means that we use to imagine the planet we live on is disposable.” Paglen intends to encourage a healthier relationship to the environments we exist in and depend on, both near and far.