“THERE’S NO REASON YOU SHOULD TRUST ME,” says Trevor Paglen from his office in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s really terrible evidence.” The “it” in question is a photograph from his series “The Other Night Sky,” 2007–, that shows the trace left by one of nearly two hundred top-secret US satellites currently orbiting the earth. The photograph itself reveals very little; there is only a narrow line etched into star-flecked darkness. It could be a comet, for example, or a communications satellite from the so-called white—or open, public—world. “At the end of the day you have to trust that I’m some kind of reliable witness,” Paglen says. “It would have been much easier to scratch the film with a razor blade.”
In fact, the photograph conceals an intensive process, one that first required amassing the Keplerian codes—complex strings of numbers that
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.