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Scenes of Secrecy

An artist, writer, and experimental geographer, Paglen's work is interested in what is public, what is secret, how to define the unknown by its effect on what is known, and why so many of the US secret projects seem to be out in the southwest united states. Paglen's use of astronomical techniques of photography such as time exposure and telescopic lenses not normally seen in camera use (that is, up to 7,000mm length) is a use of technology to create art that I found interesting: his long-distance photographs from forty miles are intriguing abstract art without knowing the subject matter in frame or the technology used to create the image.Paglen's discussion of the SW US research areas, especially the atom bomb tests at Alamogordo, reminded me of the following quote from John Ford's novel _The Final Reflection_:

"There is no more absolute zero of land...not since we have begun to live on the icecap. Only white sun, white air, and a pan of industrial abrasive the size of Chesapeake Bay, with no good line dividing them.""Things are done here,...you are here, because this place is nothing, and nothing can happen here. When we were inventing reaction-drive spacecraft, they were allowed to crash here. Nuclear weapons were set off here, just to see what would happen, because it would not matter, you see. There is no mind in this land, and no memory."

(I took the photo included because I could not resist the opportunity for a watching the watchers moment as the CDS staff was setting up a multi-monitor webcam/mirror surveillance installation under the title of the art show.)

 

 

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