Art writer, Christopher Knight wrote an entry for his Los Angeles Times blog, Culture Monster, about artist Trevor Paglen last September. His work has been unforgettable since then. Chronicles of satellites and planes doing reconnaissance work in the night sky play an intriguing yet integral part in our collective understanding of our (militaristic) history. Paglen’s work is allegorical and shows how modern technology can affect our understanding of topics such as politics, economics, and the act of seeing. I find myself much more engaged with history than ever before through his illuminating (pun intended) work. It was great seeing an interview on dailyserving.com about his current show.
…the sublime arises from those moments where we can sense that we cannot sense let alone understand something. This brings us to the “aesthetic” dimension of the work….Historically, aesthetics has often been linked to notions of freedom: ambiguity and the sublime can be quite powerful and is something visual art can be quite good at dealing with. So it’s important to me that it’s a part of my work, but the underlying “relational” and ethical aspects of the work are crucially important. Without them, it’s just pretty pictures. And there’s no reason to care about pretty pictures. ~Trevor Paglen
The work seems simple to understand. They’re photographs. What’s so difficult about understanding a photograph? Nothing too distressing to the retina. Yet, Paglen’s work takes patience, knowledge of the landscape, as well a desire to comprehend our relationships to these vast landscapes. Meshed with his scientific background in geography, the work serves as a marker of the unnatural way in which human movement and action are surveyed.