Trained as a geographer and photographer,Trevor Paglen makes the invisible visible by documenting the American surveillance state of the 21st century. From his vantage points at various public locations he photographs distant military facilities, capturing extreme telephoto images of stealth drones. Turning his vision to the night sky, he traces the paths of information-gathering satellites. In his series of Mylar satellites, Paglen applies advanced engineering to the creation of non-functional objects, stripping technology of its intended purpose and hoping to launch his own time capsule of photographs into geostationary orbit. Tracing the ways in which the convergence of aesthetics, industrial design, and politics influence how we see and understand the world, he shows us images of the American West, originally photographed for military use and now considered examples of classic photography. In images that go beyond straightforward journalistic documentation, Paglen gives voice to shifting ideas of the landscape of the American West, humankind’s place in the cosmos, and the surveillance state.

Trevor Paglen received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley (1996), an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2002), and a PhD in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley (2008). He has had residencies at Artpace (2013) and MIT (2011), and his honors include a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2011); Aperture West Prize (2008); SFMoMA SECA Award (2008); Art Matters Grant (2008); and an Artadia Grant (2007).

Trevor Paglen, Courtesy of the Artist
Trevor Paglen
Camp Springs , 1974

Current Exhibitions

12 Sep — 24 Feb
“Training Humans” is the first major photographic exhibition dedicated to training images: photo directories used by scientists to teach intelligence systems artificial (IA) how to “see” and classify the world. For...

Time, Forward!

V-A-C Foundation Venice

11 May — 20 Oct
The exhibition seeks to question the notion and function of time and how it relates to new forms of consciousness, action and sight in the twenty-first century. V–A–C Foundation has commissioned 13 new works, some site-specific,...

Past Exhibitions

Entangled Realities. Living with Artificial Intelligence

HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel)
09/05/2019 — 11/08/2019

Watched! Surveillance, Art & Photography

C/O Berlin
18/02/2017 — 23/04/2017

Solo Shows

Trevor Paglen, Metro Pictures Gallery, New York City, NY
Trevor Paglen. The Octopus, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main
Trevor Paglen: The Genres, Broad Art Museum, East Lansing
Trevor Paglen, Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Trevor Paglen, Seeing Secrecy, Stroom Den Haag, The Hague
Trevor Paglen, Last Pictures, Starmach Gallery, Krakow

Trevor Paglen, Code Names, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
Trevor Paglen, SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, Montreal, QC
Trevor Paglen, Metro Pictures Gallery, New York City, NY

Group Shows

Manifesta 11, Zurich
Berlin Biennale 2016, Berlin Biennale, Berlin
Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016, The Photographers’ Gallery, London
Sains et saufs / Surveiller et protéger au 21e siècle, MUDAC – Musée de design es d`arts appliques contemporains, Lausanne
L’image volée, Fondazione Prada, Milan
Digital Archives, Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover
Radical Landscapes, di Rosa, Napa, CA
Electronic Superhighway (2016 – 1966), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
To See Without Being Seen: Contemporary Art And Drone Warfare, Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
Time / Image, Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL
Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen, The Gund Gallery at Kenyon College, Gambier, OH

Political Populism, Museumsquartier, Vienna
Autonomy Cube: Trevor Paglen und Jacob Appelbaum, Edith-Ruß-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg
Globale: Global Control And Censorship, ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe
Time / Image – Blaffer Art Museum, at the University of Houston, Houston, TX
Don’t Folow The Wind. Non-Visitor Center, Watari-Um – Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
6. Fotofestival Mannheim, Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg
Necessary Force: Art In The Police State, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
Art In The Age Of…Asymmetrical Warfare, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
EPPUR SI MUOVE, art et technique, un espace partagé, MUDAM – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg
Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
Sob As Nuvens: Da Paranoia Ao Sublime Digital, Museu Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto
When we share more than ever, MKG – Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg
Art In The Age Of…Planetary Computation, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
Arstronomy. Incursiones En El Cosmos, La Casa Encendida, Madrid
SEVEN at The Boiler: Anonymity, no longer an option, Pierogi Brooklyn, New York City, NY
Cosmosis, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL
Networked Disruption, Rethinking Oppositions In Art, Hacktivism And Business – MMSU – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, Rijeka
Las variaciones Sebald, CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona
Panopticon, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, UT
Border Cultures: Part Three (security, surveillance), Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen, Gallery 400 – University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

modes of democracy, DOX – Centre for contemporary art, Prague
They Used To Call It The Moon, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead
Dark Chambers, On melancholy and depression, Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent
Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art – SMoCA, Scottsdale, AZ
Schwindel der Wirklichkeit, AdK – Akademie der Künste, Berlin
Fractured Narratives: a strategy to engage, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
Netz, Vom Spinnen in der Kunst, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel
Desert Serenade: Drones, Fences, Cacti, Test Sites, Craters And Serapes, Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NM
Vom Jagen und Sammeln, Kunstforum Montafon, Schruns
Turn On The Bright Lights, Hessel Museum of Art & Center for Curatorial Studies Galleries at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Smart New World, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf
Dernières Nouvelles de l’Ether, La Panacée, Montpellier
The International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, The International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena de Indias
CounterIntelligence, Justina M Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Distant Images, Local Positions, EFA Project Space – The Elizabeth Foundation for the Art, New York City, NY
Private Matters, Apexart, New York City, NY

AMERICANA, Perez Art Museum Miami – PAMM, Miami, FL
Para-Real,  601Artspace, New York City, NY
Life: On The Moon, Various Small Fires (VSF), Los Angeles, CA
Harun Farocki & Trevor Paglen, Visibility Machines, Fine Arts Building, Baltimore, MD
Dissident Futures, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
1:1 Stopover, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova , Ljubljana
Quiet Earth, Rauschenberg Foundation Project space, New York City, NY
Color! American Photography Transformed, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX
9th Mercosul Biennial 2013 Porto Alegre Brazil, Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre
The Wizard`s Chamber, curated by/ kuratiert von Lara Pan, Kunsthalle Winterthur, Winterthur
A trip to the moon, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City
A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Transmissions, Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, CA
A Different Kind Of Order: The ICP Triennial, International Center of Photography – ICP, New York City, NY
More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Free Enterprise, The Art of Citizen Space – UCR / California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA

Dieu Est Un Fumeur De Havanes, MUDAM – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg
Sammlung neue Kunst VI, H2 – Zentrum für Gegenwartskunst im Glaspalast, Augsburg
In the Holocene, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
Brighton Photo Biennial 2012, University of Brighton, Brighton
How Much Fascism?, Basis voor Actuele Kunst – BAK, Utrecht
The Unseen, Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, Guangdong
7th Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, Liverpool
More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
Bild-Gegen-Bild, Haus der Kunst München, Munich
Status 24, Dokumente Von Heute, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur
Dark Sky, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
Drones At Home, gallery@calit2, La Jolla, CA
Ministry of Truth, Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing
Object Fictions, James Cohan Gallery, New York

Contacts & Details

City of birth: Camp Springs Country of birth: USA Date of birth: 1974 Lives in: New York, USA
W: Trevor Paglen M:;