The source material for this video was intercepted from a drone by an amateur “satellite hacker”, from an open channel on a commercial communication satellite over the Western Hemisphere. The vast majority of the images are the drones targeting or practicing looking at roads very methodically, but there are a few moments when the drone looks around, looks up, looks at its surroundings. It is like the drone is lost, looking at the world around it. The use of the “drone’s-eye” view allows us to see as it sees, reinserting humanity back into the machine by using fiction, aesthetics and video to anthropomorphize the planes; the drone as a pair of eyes, albeit several stages removed.
A large number of American surveillance aircraft and drones around the world are remotely piloted via communications satellites by ground-based operators in the United States. The control and video links between aircraft and pilot are often left unencrypted to reduce the latency inherent in the system.
Trevor Paglen, adapted from an interview with the artist (“Art in the Drone Age,” Dazed Magazine, June 2013)
Trevor Paglen’s work deliberately blurs lines between science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us. Over the past decade, Trevor Paglen has trained his lens and directed our attention to the “Military Black World” of classified defense activity.
Mr. Paglen’s visual work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Modern, London; The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the 2008 Taipei Biennial; the 2009 Istanbul Biennial; the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, and numerous other solo and group exhibitions.
He is the author of five books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. His most recent book, The Last Pictures is a meditation on the intersections of deep-time, politics, and art.
Mr. Paglen has received grants and awards from the Smithsonian, Art Matters, Artadia, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the LUMA foundation, the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, and the Aperture Foundation. He is represented by Altman Siegel, San Francisco, Metro Pictures, New York and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne.
Mr. Paglen holds a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography from U.C. Berkeley.