The work of American artist, writer andexperimental geographer Trevor Paglencentres on a political and aesthetic engagement with the covert activities of the U.S. secret servicesand military, collectively known by the name ‘Black World’. His motto might well be: ‘Make the invisible visible’. His work is based onattentive observation, meticulous research and extensive data collection.
To realize his works - mostly photographs and video pieces -Paglen uses technologicallyadvanced equipment including the kind of special cameras and precision telescopes utilized in spacephotography. In this way, he is able to photograph, from great distances, classified military facilitiesbuffered by huge areas ofrestricted land, or, using long exposures, to document the flight paths - and thus the existence -of satellites. Cooperation with internationalamateur networks of aircraft and satellite spotters and the information they provide form the basisfor identifying the satellites and orbits used by the CIA for its seamless surveillance of the world.
The artist’s investigative approach ispredicated on a critical examination of the historical and cultural conditions of perception.
On one hand, Paglen is interested inphenomena not visible to the naked eye, such as satellites, drones, and their flight paths. But his artistic activity also focuses on the hidden andconcealed, such as the military facilitieslocated in the deserts of the United States and surrounded by large exclusion zones, that do notfeature on any official map. On the other hand, Paglen’s attention (and that of the viewer) is focused onphenomena that are very muchvisible to the naked eye, but which, thanks to their being camouflaged as ordinary (e.g., the countless code andcover names for secret militaryprogrammes) or due to a lack of political awareness and interest, are simply not perceived bythe majority of the population. TrevorPaglen is concerned, then, with heightening awareness of the fact that the so-called ‘Black World’ reallydoes exist.