Photographer Trevor Paglen talks about the Surveillance State

NSA GCHQ Surveillance base, Bud, Cornwall, UK, 2014

(NSA GCHQ Surveillance base, Bude, Cornwall, UK  – 2014,  photo by Trevor Paglen)

Area 51

(Area 51, Nevada… by Trevor Paglen)


(U.S. Air Force Cyber Command patch)

Photographer Trevor Paglen presents the Surveillance State:  The iconography and language of secret programs and landscapes of listening posts:

Paglen has been documenting what he terms the “black” world—where projects and even their budgets are classified from public scrutiny—for quite some time. His 2007 book, I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me, consisted largely of embroidered, real-life patches from secretive aerospace and intelligence-gathering projects, often having to do with the missions or statements of morale. Paglen became interested in the iconography of this secret culture while visiting the Antelope Valley in California, part of the empty Southwestern US that the secret world has chosen for its own.

Often unofficial, the patches are often nonetheless revealing. Projects based out of Groom Lake in Nevada—better known to some as Area 51—will often have a group of five stars kept company by another single star, for instance. A more obvious example is the Boeing Bird of Prey, a classified experimental aircraft built in the mid-1990s. When the project was declassified in 2002, it was suddenly apparent the plane’s unconventional shape had been hiding in plain sight on the mission patch all along.

See his fascinating video presentation:

Trevor Paglen:  the artist visualizing the surveillance state



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