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Modern Masters

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Trevor PaglenSites Unseen

Published by GILES in association with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Release — (UK and USA)

Dimensions — 224 pages, 305 x 254 mm (10 x 12 in)

Illustrations — 195 colour

Format — Hardback

Price — UKĀ£45.00 / US$59.95

ISBN — 978-1-911282-33-4

Sales Points

  • This is the first major mid-career survey for the artist in the United States, presenting Paglen’s early photographic series alongside his recent sculptural objects and new work with AI
  • Contributes to the important and ongoing conversation about privacy and surveillance in contemporary society
  • Paglen is a conceptual artist with activist intentions; this book taps into concerns about envisaging alternative futures
  • Paglen has just been named a MacArthur Foundation 2017 ‘Genius’ Grant Winner
  • Major accompanying exhibition at Smithsonian American Art Museum, June 21, 2018–January 6, 2019

About the Book

Trevor Paglen is an American artist, geographer, and author. What I want from art,” says Paglen, “is to help see the historical moment we live in.” His photographs make visible things we’re not meant to see; he regards this invisibility as emblematic of that moment. Looking toward the earth, sea, or sky as earlier artists have, Paglen captures the same horizon seen by Turner in the nineteenth century or by Ansel Adams in the twentieth. Only in Paglen’s images, a drone or classified communications satellite is also visible. “For me,” Paglen observes, “seeing the drone in the twenty-first century is a bit like Turner seeing the train in the nineteenth century.” Turner was less interested in the technology than its effects on perception, by its ability to accelerate human motion. Paglen is interested in our evolving perception in space. Standing in the Western landscape where Adams worked, Paglen photographs the drone as it photographs him. His images suggest that our conceptions of space and visuality are undergoing radical change; the physical limits of vision are no longer a reliable measure of what is visible to (often mechanical) others.

Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen presents Paglen’s key photographic series: Limit Telephotography; Tapped Underwater Cables and Cable Landing Sites; and The Other Night Sky and Untitled (Drones). Other works included are Code Names, NSA Triptych, 89 Landscapes, Trinity Cube, Autonomy Cube, and The Fence. It includes 93 works of photography, video, sculpture, and found objects.

The volume includes a conversation between the artist and Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Katherine Crawford.

About the Author(s)

John Jacob is McEvoy Family Curator for Photography, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC. Luke Skrebowski is lecturer in Contemporary Art, University of Manchester.