Photographer Trevor Paglen on The Colbert Report

by Art Fag City on April 8, 2008 · 6 comments Events

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Trevor Paglen speaks with Steven Colbert. Screengrab AFC

Bellwether’s Trevor Paglen spoke to Steven Colbert yesterday night about his new book, “I could tell you, but then you would have to be killed by me”. Best known for Black World, an exhibition of photographs documenting classified military activities, the artist’s latest book brings together patches worn by people who work on top secret programs.

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A patch from Trevor Paglen’s book.

I’m not sure what I expected from these patches, but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of abstract symbols, as opposed to the teenage mutant turtle -esque iconography presented. Of course, as Paglen explains, the Green Door referenced above has a long cultural history representing places you can’t go into, so the text and iconography are meant to suggest the job at hand, or as Steven Colbert points out, the porn movie with the same name. The patch is worn by military officers who do something with reconnaissance satellites (spy stuff).

Star Trek geek that I am, the last portion of the interview naturally peaked piqued my interest as Paglen cited a patch featuring an alien with a chain around its neck and a phrase written in Klingon as the one he’d most like to get his hands on. Apparently, this badge is worn by those working in Alien Technology Exploitations, a government supported activity that according to the Internet, actually investigates extra terrestrials. I’m not sure this patch brings up any questions other than, what will the translated text read?, and will the imagery reference the Next Generation aliens, or X-Files?, but either way, I’m interested in having them answered.

Related: My review of Trevor Paglen’s Black World for Flavorpill (I can’t seem to get it from the site, so I’m pasting it below)

Evoking the softly rendered forms characteristic of a Gerhard Richter painting, Trevor Paglen‘s photographs of the military-industrial complex are as beautiful as they are mysterious. Appropriately titled Black World, the exhibition documents classified military and intelligence activities with the use of telescopes and high-powered telephoto lenses. The dramatic lighting in shots of airplanes, such as Unmarked 737, lends the work a cinematic edge, whereas Large Hangars and Fuel Storage, and Canyons and Unidentified Vehicle use a traditional landscape sensibility to suggest untold narratives. The works posit both the possible and the unreachable, representing clandestine government operations and the limitations of visual representation. Via: Flavorpill.

  • KH

    Sorry to do this, but your interested would have been piqued, not peaked. :(

  • KH

    Sorry to do this, but your interested would have been piqued, not peaked. :(

  • KH

    HA! Your “interest” not “interested”. Sad face for me too!

  • KH

    HA! Your “interest” not “interested”. Sad face for me too!

  • Art Fag City

    ah, corrections such as this are welcome. It’s not like I work with an editor.

  • Art Fag City

    ah, corrections such as this are welcome. It’s not like I work with an editor.

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