Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strange Loops and Trevor Paglen

Via Wired is a new Trevor Paglen exhibition. This time it is night photography of spy satellites. The Bellweather Gallery has most of the photos up. I like this one. I've mentioned Paglen before in this post. A good quote from the second link:

Trevor Paglen is interested in the idea of photography as a kind of truth-telling, but his pictures often stop short of documentation, with their blurry subjects and barely discernible detail. Paglen’s nearly constant subject is the “black world” of the United States government, and through research and visualization he attempts to outline the edges and folds of this hidden world of military and intelligence activities. Whether photographing secret military bases from fifty miles away, or imaging spy satellites in the heavens from earth, Paglen’s photographs embody the limits of visibility, imposed both by the realities of physical distance and by informational obfuscation, that keep us as citizens from seeing and knowing these subjects on our own.
Paglen's works are like a strange loop. This time around his photography is aimed at far off IMINT, SIGINT, and TELINT satellites; in turn the birds are aimed at various puzzling targets that in turn must be solved. In "Torture Taxi" a similar strange loop occurs. He and the co-author investigate front companies and forgeries, trying to find Intelligence case officers who in turn are hunting terrorists (who are in turn trying to kill civilians like Paglen).

It's also interesting that Paglen continued using amateurs in collection of open source intelligence. In Torture Taxi he used data from amateur planespotters. This time round he acquired data from amateur astronomers.