Trevor Paglen

Artist lecture Friday, March 16, 2018 7PM
Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Trevor Paglen, Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 4), 2013.

Trevor Paglen’s work encompasses image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. He has been described as “an experimental geographer and photographer, whose work blurs the lines between science, journalism and art.” In short, his work defies categorization. He has spent much of the last decade researching, documenting and writing about “dark spots on the map”—spaces concealed by state and military classification. An area of recurring interest for Paglen is learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures.

Paglen developed a method of “limit telephotography,” which uses high-power telescopes in combination with cameras, to photograph secret prisons and military bases. In an ongoing body of photographs known collectively as The Other Night Sky, Paglen works with amateur astronomers to document classified satellites that orbit the earth. The mysterious images of the physical manifestations of military power hover between abstraction and information, between the inscrutable and the mundane. They are at once compelling as visual compositions and chilling as photographic documentation of activities that are otherwise based on speculation. More recently, Paglen has explored the ocean floor to make photographs of underwater fiber optic cables that circle the Earth and enable internet connection and developed tools to show what artificial intelligence networks and other autonomous surveillance systems “see” when they look at the world.

Some of his other projects include: launching an artwork into distant orbit around Earth (in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT), working on the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour, and creating a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan.

Paglen lives and works between Berlin, New York, and Berkeley. He received his BA and PhD from University of California, Berkeley and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of many books and articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. He has received numerous awards, including a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship and the 2016 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. He has exhibited widely, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Berkeley Art Museum; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Tate Modern, London; Kunsthall Oslo; and Kunsthalle Giessen, Germany. Later this year, his mid-career survey exhibition Sights Unseen will open at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. and he plans to launch an artwork into outer space (Orbital Reflector) with the Nevada Museum of Art.


Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program

Pier 24 Photography is pleased to present the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each year, the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program brings six photographers, writers, and curators to San Francisco to offer free and open lectures, and to work one-on-one with students at California College of the Arts.


Larry Sultan Photography Award


Awoiska van der Molen, #256-17, 2009

Awoiska van der Molen

Fall 2017 Residency
Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA

Click HERE for more information on the Larry Sultan Photography Award

The work of Awoiska van der Molen (b. 1972, Netherlands) develops from a desire to comprehend the core of the isolated world she photographs. In order to achieve the sense of solitude necessary to gain access to the stoic nature of the landscape, she spends long periods of time isolated in the natural environment. She takes time to experience the landscape and penetrates deep into the essence of the remote, hushed world created in her photographs. She immerses herself in the landscape, moves slowly, returns repeatedly and by doing so makes these unknown places her own. This gradual and solitary working process continues into the darkroom where her pictures are printed by hand—an intimate process—further imparting a unique stillness that emanates from her work.