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1000 WORDS: TREVOR PAGLEN

“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

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