In Conversation: Trevor Paglen

September 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I met up with cyber friend and fellow blogger, Pete Brook yesterday.  He was kind enough to post my San Quentin images on his Prison Photography Blog several months ago, and we have stayed in touch ever since.  He lives on the West Coast but was visiting NYC so we had grabbed some coffee and a coke (the delicious ones in the glass bottle, yum) yesterday.  It was a pleasant meeting full of interesting conversation and things to think on.  There were lots of names being dropped back and forth, lots of notes, and a commitment to continue that kind of communication and inspiration between us in the future.

There will be many ‘In Conversation‘ posts based on our chat yesterday, but here is the first one.  Trevor Paglen.  He’s totally on some other level.  While he uses photography as one of his mediums, I wouldn’t necessarily call him a photographer.  He describes himself as “an artist, writer, and experimental geographer whose work deliberately blurs lines between social science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us.”  Well said.

One of his latest projects is called The Other Night Sky where he tracks and photographs covert American satellites in orbit.

I first found his Limit Telephotography work a couple years ago.  I didn’t really understand it until I dug deeper in Trevor’s work.  The projects consists of ethereal photographs of remote military installations taken from very long distances with super powerful astronomical equipment.  Brilliant and beautiful.

Large Hangars and Fuel Storage Tonopah Test Range, NV

Large Hangars and Fuel Storage Tonopah Test Range, NV. Distance ~ 18 miles 10:44 a.m. © Trevor Paglen

Unmarked 737 at "Gold Coast" Terminal Las Vegas, NV Distance ~ 1 mile 10:44 p.m.

Unmarked 737 at "Gold Coast" Terminal Las Vegas, NV. Distance ~ 1 mile 10:44 p.m. ©Trevor Paglen

Morning Commute (Gold Coast Terminal) Las Vegas, NV Distance ~ 1 mile 6:26 a.m.  ©Trevor Paglen

Morning Commute (Gold Coast Terminal) Las Vegas, NV Distance ~ 1 mile 6:26 a.m. ©Trevor Paglen

One of his latest projects is called The Other Night Sky where he tracks and photographs covert American satellites in orbit.

DMSP 5B/F4 from Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation (military Meteorological Satellite; 1973-054A), 2009.  © Trevor Paglen

DMSP 5B/F4 from Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation (military Meteorological Satellite; 1973-054A), 2009. © Trevor Paglen

Four Geostationary Satellites Above the Sierra Nevada, 2007.  © Trevor Paglen

Four Geostationary Satellites Above the Sierra Nevada, 2007. © Trevor Paglen

Milstar 3 in Sagittarius (Inactive Communication and Targeting Satellite; USA 143), 2008.   © Trevor Paglen

Milstar 3 in Sagittarius (Inactive Communication and Targeting Satellite; USA 143), 2008. © Trevor Paglen

Trevor, if you ever want some company while you’re hanging out all night in the desert, give me a shout.