The work of American artist, writer and experimental geographer Trevor Paglen centres on a political and aesthetic engagement with the covert activities of the U.S. secret services and military, collectively known by the name “Black World”. His motto might well be: “Make the invisible visible”. His work is based on attentive observation, meticulous research and extensive data collection.
To realize his works—mostly photographs and video pieces—Paglen uses technologically advanced equipment including the kind of special cameras and precision telescopes utilized in space photography. In this way, he is able to photograph, from great distances, classified military facilities buffered by huge areas of restricted land, or, using long exposures, to document the flight paths—and thus the existence—of satellites. Cooperation with international amateur networks of aircraft and satellite spotters and the information they provide form the basis for identifying the satellites and orbits used by the CIA for its seamless surveillance of the world.