Trevor Paglen

Artist-Writer-Provocateur

Please join us:

The Last Pictures: An Artist Talk by Trevor Paglen
Wednesday, November 7 at 6:30pm
in MIT Building E15 Bartos Theater

Trevor Paglen was MIT Visiting Artist in residence from September 26 – 30, 2011
Read a review of Trevor Paglen’s September 30th lecture at MIT in the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, and view the following interview in which Trevor Paglen discusses his particular interests for his residency at MIT.


Trevor Paglen on MIT Tech TV

Visiting artist Trevor Paglen has earned international renown for uniting disparate worlds to create works that explore and document hidden worlds. The New York Times has described him as a “geographer by training, a conspiracy theorist by instinct, and an investigative reporter by avocation.” He uses photography, video, data, and other uncommon sources to create artworks that reveal the unexpected and the profound. His work has appeared in a number of the world’s most important museums and his writing, in the most influential media of our day.

Paglen developed his newest work The Last Pictures through years of research and consultation with leading philosophers, scientists, engineers, artists, and historians and through a residency sponsored by the Visiting Artists Program at MIT. The project originates from the idea that the communications satellites in Earth’s orbit will ultimately become the cultural and material ruins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, far outlasting anything else humans have created. These geostationary satellites, located above the equator at an altitude of 24,000 miles, experience no atmospheric drag, and will remain in orbit until our sun expands into a red giant and engulfs the earth about 4.5 billion years from now. The Last Pictures imagines a future Earth where there is no evidence of human civilization beyond the derelict spacecraft we have left behind in our planet’s orbit.

During his residency at MIT, Paglen researched ultra-archival materials and aerospace design. Faculty, researchers, and students in engineering, materials science, and message encoding worked with Paglen, using their knowledge and skills in new and unexplored realms. Paglen sought out MIT researchers Professor Karl. K. Berggren of the MIT Research Lab for Electronics, Associate Professor Brian L. Wardle from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and graduate student Adam McCaughan from the Quantum Nanostructure and Nanofabrication Group to explore materials and fabricate a lightweight, encodable, ultradurable silicon wafer etched with images using specialized equipment in the Quantum Nanostructure and Nanofabrication lab at MIT.

Paglen delivered the lecture “The Other Night Sky: Destiny, Warfare, and Ruins among the Stars” in September 2011.

Paglen’s residency was made possible by the Arts at MIT Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with the List Visual Art Center and the MIT Program is Art, Culture and Technology (ACT). The Last Pictures is commissioned and presented by public art organization Creative Time.

Read about his project The Last Pictures in the July 6, 2012 New York Times

Read an interview with Paglen in eflux September 2012 e-flux .

High Aims Under Starry Skies Wall Street Journal, 9/23/2012.

The Last Pictures: photos intended for aliens after humans are gone Slate, 9/21/2012.

Read more on the Creative Time website.

Visit Trevor Paglen’s website.