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Trevor Paglen


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Trevor Paglen was born in Maryland in 1974. He lives and works in Berkeley, California. Paglen holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and Music Composition from the University of California, Berkeley, a M.F.A. in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography with a Designated Emphasis in New Media from UC Berkeley, where he currently teaches. Since 2000, the work of the award-winning artist has been shown in a number of international solo- and group exhibitions, while Paglen has also taken part in numerous festivals, lectures and public projects. Only recently, Paglen has received the SECA Award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2008, the Berkeley Art Museum in California mounted a comprehensive solo exhibition; in 2010, his work will be on view at the Vienna Secession. In addition to a number of group exhibitions, lectures and public projects, Paglen takes part in the Istanbul Biennial this year.
His research is documented in several books, the most recent of which is called Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World and was published by Dutton/NAL/Penguin in February 2009.

The American artist Trevor Paglen tackles current and highly controversial issues and receives much media attention. The geographer teaching at the University of California in Berkeley investigates phenomena which are kept stricly secret and whose existence is obscured from the public eye. It is only through technically experimental and extensive research projects that Paglen is able to reveal what was classified by high-ranking officials. He works his observations and insights into his books and art.
The exhibition A Compendium of Secrets is a collection of images and photographs depicting secret military and intelligence programs undertaken by the United States government. Often blurry, incomplete, and torn out of context, the images capture the sense of seduction that secrecy creates through its characteristic dynamics of concealing and revealing. On view are photographs of secret reconnaissance satellites in the night sky, photographs of secret military bases and CIA prisons from around the world, the portrait of a CIA “rendition team” member taken from a fake passport, and a curious collection of patches and insignia designed for top-secret military projects.
Paglen’s astrophotographs depict secret American spacecraft against backdrops of stars, constellations, and nebulae. To develop the project, he used observational data provided by an international network of amateur “satellite observers,” then worked with a team of computer scientists and engineers to develop a software model to describe the orbital motion of secret spacecraft. This allowed Paglen to make very accurate predictions of where American military and intelligence satellites would appear in the night sky. Using photographic techniques originally developed for astrophotography, Paglen photographs what he calls “the Other Night Sky.”
For his photographs of classified military installations in the American West the artist also uses the tools of astronomy. With these landscape photos, Paglen is interested in photographing places that often do not officially “exist.” The majority of the secret military installations depicted in his photos are, quite literally, invisible to the unaided eye behind dozens of miles of restricted military land. To produce images of these hidden spaces, Paglen attaches cameras to a collection of high-powered astronomical telescopes with focal lengths up to 7000mm. The dozens of miles of thick haze and heat depicted in his photographs, however, mark the physical and epistemological limits of vision.
Copies of passports show portraits like that of “Anne Linda Jenkins”, a CIA officer assigned to a “rendition team”: This woman’s job is to help the CIA kidnap terror suspects from around the world and deliver them to third countries such as Egypt, or to a network of secret CIA-operated prisons. The portrait draws attention to ways in which the everyday and the extraordinary collapse into one another. The older woman depicted in the photograph (originally from a fake passport Paglen obtained from an Italian Hotel where the woman stayed) is not what most people would think of if asked to imagine what a CIA paramilitary operative might look like.
The distinctive interplay between revelation and secrecy, evidence and abstraction, characterizing Paglen’s work is also at play in his “symbology” series, the subject of his recent book I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me. In framed collections of military patches designed for “black” defense programs Paglen presents an enigmatic take on the ready-made. The bizarre symbolism contained in the patches echo the symbolic art of ancient mystery cults and secret societies, suggesting programs and projects whose names cannot be spoken.


Art objects of this artist

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Tonopah Test Range at Twilight, 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Tonopah Test Range at Twilight, 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Code Names: Classified Military Programs Active Between 2001 and 2007 
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Code Names: Classified Military Programs Active Between 2001 and 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Code Names: Classified Military Programs Active Between 2001 and 2007 
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Code Names: Classified Military Programs Active Between 2001 and 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Symbology, VOl. I, 2006
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Symbology, VOl. I, 2006

Paglen, Trevor ◊ KEYHOLE/IMPROVED CRYSTAL Optical Reconnaissance Satellite Near Scorpio (USA 129), 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ KEYHOLE/IMPROVED CRYSTAL Optical Reconnaissance Satellite Near Scorpio (USA 129), 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ KEYHOLE/IMPROVED CRYSTAL Optical Reconnaissance Satellite Near Scorpio (USA 129), 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ KEYHOLE/IMPROVED CRYSTAL Optical Reconnaissance Satellite Near Scorpio (USA 129), 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ KEYHOLE/ADVANCED IKON (USA 161) in Milky Way, 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ KEYHOLE/ADVANCED IKON (USA 161) in Milky Way, 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Symbology, VOl. I, 2006
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Symbology, VOl. I, 2006

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Symbology, VOl. I, 2006
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Symbology, VOl. I, 2006

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Code Names: Classified Military Programs Active Between 2001 and 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Code Names: Classified Military Programs Active Between 2001 and 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ Tonopah Test Range at Twilight, 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ Tonopah Test Range at Twilight, 2007

Paglen, Trevor ◊ N5177C at Night, 2007
Paglen, Trevor ◊ N5177C at Night, 2007

Biography


1974
born in Maryland, USA

1993-1996
University of California at Berkeley
B.A. in Religious Studies, Minor in Music Composition

2000-2002
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
M.F.A. in Art and Technology

2002-2008
University of California at Berkeley
Ph.D. in Geography with a Designated Emphasis

Trevor Paglen lives and works in Berkeley, California.


Grants and Awards

2008
Aperture West Prize, Aperture Foundation, New York, NY
“Utne Visionary,” Utne Reader
Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art Award (SECA), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Art Matters Grant, New York, NY

2007
Artadia Grant, New York, NY
Nominee: Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers
Outstanding GSI Teaching Award, University of California at Berkeley

2006
Production Commission. Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, New York Commission Rhizome.org (project with Institute for Applied Autonomy)
Research/Travel Grant, New American Media (travel funding to research Torture Taxi book)

2005
Fellowship, Vectors Journal, University of Southern California
Exhibition Grant, LEF Foundation (Support for Recording Carceral Landscapes exhibition)

2004
Writers Grant, Institute for Anarchist Studies (for Recording Carceral Landscapes book/catalog)
Project Grant, U.C. Berkeley Graduate Assembly (for Recording Carceral Landscapes exhibition)

2003
Individual Artist Grant, Dlabal Foundation, (for Remnants of California project)
Block Grant, Department of Geography at U.C. Berkeley (research grant)



BiographyExhibitionBibliographyArt objects

Exhibition


Current and past exhibition-dates and information
Mar 21st, 2009
Trevor Paglen "A Compendium of Secrets"


More dates:

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2010
Vienna Secession, Vienna, Austria

2009
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SECA Exhibition)
Bellwether Gallery, New York, NY
Altman-Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, CA
"A Compendium of Secrets", Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

2008
Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA

2006
Black World, Bellwether Gallery, New York

2005
The LAB, San Francisco, CA

2002
California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco

2001
Deadtech, Chicago, IL
Salina Art Center, Salina, KS

Selected Group Exhibitions

2010
[Out of] Control, 7. International Biennal for Photography and Visual Arts, Liège, Belgium

2009
11th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey
Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba
Schneider Museum of Art, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR
Tech Tools of the Trade: Contemporary New Media Art, de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University, CA
CONTACT Photo Festival, Toronto, Canada
Universal Code, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada
"Red Thread", TANAS - Space for Contemporary Turkish Art, Berlin
Close Encounters 2: Acts of Social Imagination, Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York, NY

2008
Off the Grid, Neuberger Museum of Art, SUNY Purchase, Purchase, NY
Experimental Geography, curated by Nato Thompson, organized through iCI, Richard E.
Peeler Art Center, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine (travels through 2010)
In the Private Eye, curated by Yaelle Amir, ISE Cultural Foundation, New York, NY
Berkeley Big Bang 08, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA
Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, New York, NY
The New Normal, curated by Michael Connor through ICI, Artists Space, New York, NY;
Huarte Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Huarte, Spain; Canzani Center Gallery, Columbus
College of Art & Design, Columbus, OH (travels through 2010)
Conspire, Transmediale.08, Berlin, Germany
Taipei Biennial, Taiwan

2007
6 Billion Perps Held Hostage! Artists Address Global Warming, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
Crimes of Omission, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Ominous Atmosphere, Heather Marx Gallery, San Francisco
Dark Matters: Artists See the Impossible, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
The Landscape of War, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA

2006
Only the Paranoid Survive, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY
Dataesthetics Reloaded, Galerija Nova, Zagreb, Croatia
Dystopische Landschaft, Kunstraum München, Munich
A Historic Occasion, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA
The Culture of Fear/Die Kultur der Angst, Halle 14, Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei, Leipzig, Germany

2005
Thought Crimes: The Art of Subversion, Diverse Works, Houston, TX

2004
Echo Local, Gallery 400, Chicago
The Big Nothing: A Void, Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

2003
Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA (collaboration with Greg Niemeyer)
Operation How, Now, Wow, 16 Beaver Space, New York
Version 3, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

2002
Plug and Play, Artswatch, Louisville, KY
Version 2.0, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
POW!, California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco

2001
Book Show, Temporary Services, Chicago
The Summer Show, Gallery 312, Chicago
Resynthesis, Betty Rymer Gallery, Chicago
Book Show, Temporary Services, Chicago

2000
Counter Productive Industries, 1926 Gallery, Chicago



BiographyExhibitionBibliographyArt objects

Bibliography


Invisible (working title). New York: Aperture Foundation, forthcoming spring 2010

Blank Spots on the Map: the Secret Geography of the Pentagon’s Black World. New York: Penguin/Dutton, Spring 2009

Thompson, Nato and Independent Curators Internatioal (eds.) Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism. New York: Melville House, January 2009

I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagons, 2007

Black World, Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing, 2007

Co-authored with AC Thompson, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights, Hoboken: Melville House (note: Paglen was primary author) Translated into French,
Portuguese, Polish, and Italian), 2006

Late September at an Undisclosed Location in the Nevada Desert, Cultural Geographies,
Spring Editors Derek Gregory and Allan Pred, Groom Lake and the Imperial Production of Nowhere, Violent Geographies (collection), Routledge, 2006

Torture Air, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Vol. 40, No. 11, Dec 14-20, 2005

Recording California's Carceral Landscapes, Art Journal, Spring, 2004

Co-authored with Aaron Gach, Tactics Without Tears, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Fall, 2003

Remapping Chicago, Blu Magazine, 2001

Sounding the Panorama, Rant Magazine, 2001



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