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Trevor Paglen, Singleton/SBW ASS-R1 and Three Unidentified Spacecraft (Space Based Wide Area Surveillance System; USA 32), 2012, C-print, 60 x 48".

Trevor Paglen

Metro Pictures

Trevor Paglen, Singleton/SBW ASS-R1 and Three Unidentified Spacecraft (Space Based Wide Area Surveillance System; USA 32), 2012, C-print, 60 x 48".

THE END OF SPACE AGE: So proclaims the cover of a recent issue of The Economist, which Trevor Paglen has photographed and blown up to movie-poster size. If ever there was a moment to reassess the utopian drive to exceed the envelope of Earth, now is that time, for, as Paglen’s exhibition suggests, the era of space exploration as a humanistic program of knowledge acquisition, interspecies communication, and possible intergalactic colonization—in short, the epoch of cosmic optimism—has receded. Instead, embers of dystopian millenarianism, already present during the Cold War period, are once again being fanned, and, more alarmingly, a new vision of outer space as a zone for privatized, touristic exploration and capitalistic exploitation is emerging.

This exhibition presented materials related to Paglen’s latest project, The Last Pictures, 2012, for which he micro-etched a

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