Trevor Paglen’s work deliberately blurs lines between science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us.

Released in 2012, The Last Pictures is a collection of 100 images to be placed on permanent media and launched into space on EchoStar XVI, as a repository available for future civilizations (alien or human) to find. Trevor Paglen lives and works in New York.



Paglen, Trevor (US) - The Last Pictures Project



Humanity’s longest lasting remnants are found among the stars. Over the last fifty years, hundreds of satellites have been launched into geosynchronous orbits, forming a ring of machines 36,000 kilometers from earth. Thousands of times further away than most other satellites, geostationary spacecraft remain locked as man-made moons in perpetual orbit long after their operational lifetimes. Geosynchronous spacecraft will be among civilization’s most enduring remnants, quietly circling earth until the earth is no more.

Commissioned by public art organization Creative Time, The Last Pictures marks a distant satellite with a record from the historical moment from whence it came. Artist Trevor Paglen collaborated with materials scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a micro-etched disc with one hundred photographs, encased in a gold-plated shell, designed withstand the rigors of space and to last for billions of years. Inspired by years of conversations and interviews with scientists, artists, anthropologists, and philosophers, the images chosen for The Last Pictures tell an impressionistic story of uncertainty, paradox, and anxiety about the future.

In November 2012 the communications satellite EchoStar XVI reached geostationary orbit with The Last Pictures mounted to its anti-earth deck. The satellite will spend fifteen years broadcasting television and high-bandwidth internet signals before maneuvering into a “graveyard” orbit where it will become a ghost-ship, carrying The Last Pictures towards the depths of time.  



more on the project: http://paglen.com/lastpictures

more on the artist: http://paglen.com

The Last Pictures Project: LAUNCH

1: EchoStar XVI arrives in Kazakhstan
2: The Baikonur team poses with EchoStar XVI just prior to final housingin the Proton Breeze M upper stage
3: The launch approaches
4: EchoStar XVI lifted into upright position
5: The launch apparatus on its way to EchoStar XVI
6: EchoStar XVI launched in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, November 21st 2012
7: The Last Pictures onboard EchoStar XVI 36,000 km from Earth

The Last Pictures Project: PRODUCTION


1 & 2: The Last Pictures Artifact
3: Production of the image disc
4 & 5: EchoStar XVI under construction
6: EchoStar under construction with reflectors fully extended

The Last Pictures Project: SELECTION FRON THE LAST PICTURES

1: SOYUZ FG ROCKET LAUNCH, BAIKONUR COSMODROME, KAZAKHSTAN
2: TYPHOON, JAPAN, EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY
3: EARTHRISE
4: GLIMPSES OF AMERICA, AMERICAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION, MOSCOW WORLD’S FAIR
5: MIGRANTS SEEN BY PREDATOR DRONE, U.S.-MEXICO BORDER
6: CHERRY BLOSSOMS
7: THE PIT SCENE, LASCAUX CAVE
8: NARBONA PANEL, CANYON DE CHELLY, NAVAJO NATION
9: WATERSPOUT, FLORIDA KEYS

Paglen, Trevor (US) - American Predator (Collaboration with Noor Behram), Billboard, 2011



Above our heads more than 200 secret American surveillance satellites constantly orbit the Earth: with the help of fanatical amateur astronomers who track their courses, Paglen has photographed them. A secret air force base deep in the desert outside Las Vegas is the control centre for the US’s huge fleet of drones: Paglen has photographed these tiny dots hurtling through the Nevada skies.

“Witnessing a drone hovering over Waziristan skies is a regular thing,” says Noor Behram, who shot this image outside his house in Dande Darpa Khel, North Waziristan.

For more than five years, Behram has been documenting the aftermath of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the hub of the CIA’s remote assassination program. When Behram learns of a strike, he races towards ground zero to photograph the scene. “North Waziristan,” he explained “is a big area scattered over hundreds of miles and some places are harder to reach due to lack of roads and access. At many places I will only be able to reach the scene after 6-8 hours.” Nonetheless, Behram’s photographs are some of the only on-the-ground images of drone attacks.

“The few places where I have been able to reach right after the attack were a terrible sight” he explains, “One such place was filled with human body parts lying around and a strong smell of burnt human flesh. Poverty and the meagre living standards of inhabitants is another common thing at the attack sites.” Behram’s photographs tell a different story than official American reports that consistently deny civilian casualties from drone attacks: “I have come across some horrendous visions where human body parts would be scattered around without distinction, those of children, women, and elderly.”

For Behram, this particular photograph is nothing exceptional. “This was like any other day in Waziristan. Coming out of the house, witnessing a drone in the sky, getting along with our lives till it targets you. That day it was in the morning and I was at my home playing with my children. I spotted the drone and started filming it with my camera and then I followed it a bit on a bike.”


more: http://paglen.com/

Paglen, Trevor (US) - Untitled (Reaper Drone), 48x60 in, 2010

Paglen, Trevor (US) - Untitled (Reaper Drone), 48x60 in, 2010

Paglen, Trevor (US) - Untitled (Reaper Drone), 48x60 in, 2010

Paglen, Trevor (US) - Untitled (Reaper Drone), 48x60 in, 2010