Human civilizations' longest lasting artifacts are not the great Pyramids of Giza, nor the cave paintings at Lascaux, but the satellites that circle Earth.
The Last Pictures is rooted in the premise that these satellites will ultimately become the ruins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, far outlasting anything else humans have created. Inspired in part by cave paintings, nuclear waste warning signs, and Carl Sagan's Golden Record, Trevor Paglen has developed a collection of one hundred images that will be etched onto a golden silicon disc. The selection of images was influenced by four years of interviews with leading scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, and artists about the contradictions that characterize contemporary civilizations.
Social scientist, artist and writer, Paglen has been exploring the secret activities of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies--the "black world"--for the last eight years, publishing, speaking and making astonishing photographs. As an artist, Paglen is interested in the idea of photography as truth-telling, but his pictures often stop short of traditional ideas of documentation. In the series Limit Telephotography, for example, he employs high-end optical systems to photograph top-secret governmental sites; and in The Other Night Sky, he uses the data of amateur satellite watchers to track and photograph classified spacecraft in Earth's orbit. Rebecca Solnit contributes a searing essay that traces this history of clandestine military activity on the American landscape.
“Blank Spots is an important, well-researched, and insightful expose that opens a window into the black world of secret operations. Paglen’s conclusion that ‘our own history, in large part, has become a state secret’ is both a warning and a call to arms. It is time to heed the warning and take up arms.”
—John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman
“A chillingly literal tour de force. Paglen doesn’t so much fill in the blanks as trace their outlines and give their shifting shapes a density that says as much about the future of democracy as it does about the dismal confines of the black world.”
—Derek Gregory, Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia
Shown here for the first time, these patches reveal a secret world of military imagery and jargon, where classified projects are known by peculiar names ("Goat Suckers," "None of Your Fucking Business," "Tastes Like Chicken") and illustrated with occult symbols and ridiculous cartoons. Although the actual projects represented here (such as the notorious Area 51) are classified, these patches-which are worn by military units working on classified missions-are precisely photographed, strangely hinting at a world about which little is known.
In this first book to systematically investigate extraordinary rendition, an award-winning investigative journalist and a "military geographer" explore the CIA program in a series of journeys that takes them around the world. They travel to suburban Massachusetts to profile a CIA front company that supplies the agency with airplanes; to Smithfield, North Carolina, to meet pilots who fly CIA aircraft; to the San Francisco suburbs to study with a "planespotter" who tracks the CIA's movements; and to Afghanistan, where the authors visit the notorious "Salt Pit" prison and meet released Afghan detainees.
Edited by Nato Thompson and contains essays by Thompson, Jeffrey Kastner, and myself. The book is a visual and critical exploration of ideas about space, politics, and cultural production that Thompson and I have developed over more than a decade of conversations.
ARTICLES & ESSAYS