Trevor Paglen’s Lens on the Invisible

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Mixing research with surveillance, photographer and social scientist Trevor Paglen documents the covert and classified actions of the American military and intelligence agencies and turns it into art. Fuzzy pictures of desert airfields, test centers, and surveillance sites — shot at a distance from hard to reach vantage points in extreme conditions — reveal the hidden transfer of workers and weaponry. His long exposures of the nighttime skies show the flight paths of spy satellites watching our every move, while his research into CIA plots and collection of military memorabilia disclose the games governments play and the pride the players take in their secretive activities. Paglen’s pictures, which get exhibited in museums and galleries internationally and published in books, are both startling and sublime.

An exhibition of Trevor Paglen’s work is currently on view at the Secession in Vienna, while a recent monograph, Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes, which was published by Aperture, is available at Amazon.

Click through below for a gallery of fascinating images.

“James Thomas Harbison” (CIA Officer Wanted in Connection with the Abduction of Abu Omar from Milan, Italy), 2007. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

From the series Six CIA Officers Wanted in Connection with the Abduction of Abu Omar from Milan, Italy, 2007. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Workers; Gold Coast Terminal; Las Vegas, NV; Distance ~ 1 mile; 8:58 a.m. , 2007, C-Print 76,2 x 91,4 cm Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Köln und Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco

Trevor Paglen, They Watch the Moon, 2010

Unknown Dragon. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Project Zipper 2009. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Dead Military Satellite (DMSP 5D-F11) Near the Disk of the Moon , 2010, C-Print 61 x 81,3 cm Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Köln und Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco

Worth the Wait. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Alone and Unafraid. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Large Hangars and Fuel Storage, 2005. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

DMSP 5B/F4 from Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation (Military Meteorological Satellite; 1973-054A), 2009. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

KEYHOLD/IMPROVED CRYSTAL near Scorpio (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 129), 2007. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

LACROSSE/ONYX near Cepheus (Synthetic Aperture Radar Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 182), 2008. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Nine Reconnaissance Satellites over the Sonora Pass, 2008. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Four Geostationary Satellites Above the Sierra Nevada, 2007. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

N5177C at Gold Coast Terminal, 2007. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Depleted Uranium Field, 2006. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

Chemical and Biological Proving Ground #2, 2006. From the book Invisible (Aperture 2010) © Trevor Paglen

PAN (Unknown; USA-207) , 2010, C-Print , 152,4 x 121,9 cm Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Köln und Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco

Control Tower (Area 52); Tonopah Test Range, NV; Distance ~ 20 miles; 11:55 a.m. , 2006, C-Print 76,2 x 91,4 cm Trevor Paglen. Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Köln und Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco