Trevor Paglen

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Trevor Paglen
Born 1974
Alma mater School of the Art Institute of Chicago;
University of California at Berkeley

Trevor Paglen (born in 1974) is an American artist, geographer, and author that explores surveillance themes.[1]


He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where he currently works as a researcher.

Paglen is the author of three books including Torture Taxi, (co-authored with investigative journalist Adam Clay Thompson) which was the first book to comprehensively describe the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, and I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me, which is a look at the world of black projects through unit patches and memorabilia created for top-secret programs.[2]

Paglen's book, Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World is a broader look at secrecy in the United States.[3]

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.[4]

Art career[edit]

Paglen has shown photography and other visual works at numerous museums and galleries including MassMoca, and Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bellwether Gallery in New York.[5] and Lighthouse in Brighton.[6] He was an Eyebeam Commissioned Artist in 2007.

His visual work such as his "Limit Telephotography" and "The Other Night Sky" series has received widespread attention for both his technical innovations and for his conceptual project that involves simultaneously making and negating documentary-style truth-claims.[7]

Experimental Geography[edit]

Trevor Paglen is credited with coining the term "Experimental Geography" to describe practices coupling experimental cultural production and art-making with ideas from critical human geography about the production of space, materialism, and praxis. The 2009 book Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism is largely inspired by Paglen's work.[8]


Further reading[edit]

  • Nato Thompson (ed). Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism (Melville House Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-0-09-163658-6
  • Perini, Julie (2010). "Art as Intervention: A Guide to Today's Radical Art Practices". In Team Colors Collective. Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. AK Press. ISBN 9781849350167. 


  1. ^ Gamerman, Ellen (12 September 2013). "The Fine Art of Spying". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Logos offer a guide to secret military programs, International Herald Tribune, April 2, 2008.
  3. ^ Paglen, Trevor "Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World" New York: Dutton, 2009
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Trevor Paglen show at Bellwether Gallery in 2006
  6. ^ Trevor Paglen show at Lighthouse in 2012
  7. ^ Keenan, Tom. "Disappearances: The Photographs of Trevor Paglen" Aperture, No. 191. Summer 2008
  8. ^ Nato Thompson interview in The Nation

External links[edit]