The longest lasting remnants of human civilization are the satellites in orbit around the earth. At some point in the near or far future, there will be no evidence of human civilization on the earth’s surface, but a great ring of dead machines will remain a permanent feature of our planet.
For the last four years, artist Trevor Paglen, in partnership with public arts organization Creative Time, has been developing a project to take this phenomenon seriously. “The Last Pictures” is a collection of one hundred images loosely organized around the purpose of “explaining what happened” to the people responsible for the Clarke Belt. “The Last Pictures” will be affixed to the communications satellite EchoStar XVI and shot into Earth’s orbit.
“The Last Pictures” is a public art project that takes place in earth orbit where nobody can see it. Paglen is presenting the project to the public through a series of lectures and slide shows around the world, and through “The Last Pictures” as published in September 2012 by the University of California Press.
Over the course of a one-hour lecture, Paglen will present a slide show of the images, and the stories and conversations behind them. His discussion will touch on cave paintings, extraterrestrial messages, nuclear waste storage sites, and notions of “the human.” Paglen will show how “The Last Pictures” is both utterly absurd but at the same time embodies an array of cultural, political, economic, and temporal contradictions that are structuring modernity itself.
Paglen’s visual work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; the 2008 Taipei Biennial; the 2009 Istanbul Biennial, and numerous other solo and group exhibitions.
Tomorrow October 9, 2012 at SALT Beyoglu – Istanbul – 6 pm