Nine Reconnaissance Satellites over the Sonora Pass

by Trevor Paglen. 2008.

“On the one hand, we have what we might call the politics of production. By this I mean the kinds of relational practices that are behind the work and go into its making. On the other hand, we have things like the visual rhetoric and aesthetics of an image: here we find more of the questions about spectatorship, art history, and so forth. Taking both sides of this seriously is fundamental to what I do. If we’re talking about the politics of production, there are a lot of things going on. On the one hand, I might be camping out on a mountaintop taking photos of a secret military base, determining the location of CIA “black sites” so I can go photograph them, researching front companies used in covert operations, or working with amateur astronomers to track classified spacecraft in Earth orbit. These are all relational practices and they all have various sorts of politics to them. Photographing a secret military base means insisting on the right to do it, and enacting that right. Thus, we have a sort of political performance.” -Paglen in October 138, 2011

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