FotoFest Exhibitions

Trevor Paglen

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Inspired by the methods of early astronomers Kepler and Galileo, who documented the previously unseen moons of Jupiter in the early seventeenth century, geographer Trevor Paglen began a project of photographing classified American satellites in the night sky. Paglen has extended and developed this body of work by translating observational data into a software model that describes the orbital motion of classified spacecrafts. With these tools, he can calculate the position and timing of overhead reconnaissance satellite transits and photograph them with telescopes and large-format cameras using a computer-guided mechanical mount. The resulting photographs record trails of sunlight reflected from the hulls of obscure spacecraft hurtling through the night sky.


Trevor Paglen, born in 1974 and currently working in the western United States, is an internationally acclaimed artist and geographer. Paglen’s photographs point to the limits of visibility, imposed both by the realities of physical distance and by informational obfuscation. He has been featured in numerous exhibitions including: Universal Code, The Power Plant, Toronto; Experimental Geography, Independent Curators International, New York; the 2009 Istanbul Biennial; the 2009 Havana Biennial; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Berkeley Art Museum; Conspire, Transmediale.08, Berlin; and Crimes of Omission, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. In 2010 his work will be featured in a solo exhibition at Secession, Vienna. Trevor Paglen is represented by Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne. Paglen has published three books, the latest being Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World (New York: Dutton, 2009).