Trevor Paglen, ‘Operation Onymous (FBI Investigation of the Silk Road)’, 2016, FOR-SITE Foundation

About Trevor Paglen

An artist and author of numerous books and articles, Trevor Paglen uses special equipment to photograph sites of secret government activity, or “black sites,” including the Tonopah Test Range and the Nevada Test and Training Range. Capturing sites at long range, Paglen produces images that are frequently blurred or painterly in effect, alluding to art historical forbears concerned with the breakdown of representation, such as J.M.W. Turner and Gerhard Richter. Paglen’s image, KEYHOLE IMPROVED CRYSTAL from Glacier Point (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 224) (2011), a spy-satellite portrait of the sky above Yosemite Valley, evokes the work of Ansel Adams and Timothy O'Sullivan. “A lot of what we think about as classical Western landscape photography was paid for by the military,” Paglen has said, “or by what was then called the Department of War, as part of what they called reconnaissance surveys.” In his recent project The Last Pictures, Paglen worked with MIT scientists to design a spacecraft able to last billions of years, which was launched into space with an archival disc inscribed with one hundred photographs that the artist chose to capture our present historical and cultural moment.

American, b. 1974, Maryland, based in New York, New York