Trevor Paglen
The Last Pictures


Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art
Cankarjeva 15, Ljubljana

29 October 2012 at 6 pm
Human civilizations’ longest lasting artifacts are not the great Pyramids of Giza, nor the cave paintings at Lascaux, but the communications satellites that circle our planet. In a stationary orbit above the equator, the satellites that broadcast our TV signals, route our phone calls, and process our credit card transactions experience no atmospheric drag. Their inert hulls will continue to drift around Earth until the Sun expands into a red giant and engulfs them about 4.5 billion years from now.

The Last Pictures is a project rooted in the premise that these communications satellites will ultimately become the cultural and material ruins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, far outlasting anything else humans have created. Inspired in part by ancient cave paintings, nuclear waste warning signs, and Carl Sagan’s Golden Records of the 1970s, artist/geographer Trevor Paglen has developed a collection of one hundred images that will be etched onto an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc. The disc, commissioned by Creative Time, will then be sent into orbit onboard the Echostar XVI satellite in Fall 2012, as both a time capsule and a message to the future.

While the satellite’s broadcast images are as fleeting as the light-speed radio waves they travel on, The Last Pictures will remain in outer space slowly circling the Earth until the Earth itself is no more.

The selection of 100 images was influenced by four years of interviews with leading scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, and artists about the contradictions that characterize contemporary civilizations. Consequently, The Last Pictures engages some of the most profound questions of the human experience, provoking discourse about communication, deep time, and the economic, environmental, and social uncertainties that define our historical moment.

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The project was first presented in New York on 19 September 2012. In Europe, it will be shown at Goethe-Institut, Amsterdam; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Moderna galerija, Ljubljana; SALT Istanbul, and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam.

The event in Ljubljana is organized by Moderna galerija Ljubljana in cooperation with Creative Time and Aksioma - Institute for Contemporary Art.


Trevor Paglen


Radical geographer, muckraking author and outlaw artist, San Francisco-based Trevor Paglen has been exploring the secret activities of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies--the "black world"--for the last eight years, publishing, speaking and making astonishing photographs. Paglen is interested in the idea of photography as truth-telling, but his pictures often stop short of traditional ideas of documentation. In the series Limit Telephotography, for example, he employs high-end optical systems to photograph top-secret governmental sites; and in The Other Night Sky, he uses the data of amateur satellite watchers to track and photograph classified spacecraft in Earth's orbit. In other works Paglen transforms documents such as passports, flight data and aliases of CIA operatives into art objects. Paglen’s works touch on the far-out regions where reality becomes indistinguishable from paranoid delusion, and they have taken him from the fabled Area 51 in the Nevada desert to the wastelands of occupied Afghanistan.


The book
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Trevor Paglen
A Hidden Landscape
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