Trevor Paglen: The Last Pictures
Sun, October 28, 2012 5 pm CET, Lecture
Since 1963, more than eight hundred spacecrafts have been launched into geosynchronous orbit, forming a man-made ring of satellites around the earth. These satellites are destined to become one of the longest-lasting artifacts of human civilization, quietly floating through space long after every trace of humanity will have disappeared from the planet.

Trevor Paglen’s “The Last Pictures” is a project that marks one of these spacecrafts with a visual record of our contemporary historical moment. Paglen spent five years interviewing scientists, artists, anthropologists, and philosophers to consider what such a cultural mark should be. Working with material scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Paglen developed an artifact designed to last billions of years—an ultra-archival disc, micro-etched with one hundred photographs and encased in a gold-plated shell. In fall 2012, the communications satellite EchoStar XVI will launch into geostationary orbit with the disc mounted on its anti-earth deck. While the satellite’s broadcast images are as fleeting as the light-speed radio waves they travel on, “The Last Pictures” will remain in outer space slowly circling the earth until the earth itself will be no more.

Trevor Paglen (born in 1974) is an American artist, geographer, and author. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where he currently works as a researcher.
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