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Trevor Paglen photographs the invisible -- and sinister

September 10, 2010 |  7:00 am

Paglen Arneson Wolf Head Terry Carroll 2 Usually, artists photograph what they can see in the camera's viewfinder. Not Trevor Paglen -- at least, not always.

Sometimes he aims his camera at the night sky, where a multi-hour exposure can record spy satellites that can't be seen by the naked eye revolving around the Earth. Other times he points the lens toward secret U.S. military installations -- 30, 40 miles and more away in the remote deserts of the West. And once in a while he runs pictures found on the Internet through a printer, presenting faked "portraits" of known CIA operatives.

"Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes," the first monograph on the Oakland-based artist, has just been published by Aperture. My Critic's Notebook in Friday's Calendar takes a look inside its fascinating pages.

-- Christopher Knight

Photo: at right, Trevor Paglen, "Nine Reconnaissance Satellites over the Sonora Pass," 2008, installed at the Oakland Museum of California with Robert Arneson's "Wolf Head" (detail); Credit: Terry Carroll