Photos Launch for Alien Curation

Earth Orbit - There’s a ring of man-made satellites orbiting the earth that will outlast human civilization, and probably planet Earth, itself.

To send a message to the future, artist Trevor Paglen, pictured here, decided to micro-etch 100 images on an ultra-archival disc created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers and blast them up there.

With the support of Creative Time, Paglen finished the five-year project, and the volume “The Last Pictures” will soon launch on the satellite EchoStar XVI.

The Last Pictures, co-published by University of California Press and Creative Time Books, is rooted in the premise that these communications satellites will ultimately become the cultural and material ruins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, far outlasting anything else humans have created.

Inspired in part by ancient cave paintings, nuclear waste warning signs, and Carl Sagan’s Golden Records of the 1970s, the artist/geographer has developed a collection of one hundred images that will be etched onto an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc.

Encased in a gold-plated shell, the images will circle the earth for the next five billion years -- ready to be found by a curious extraterrestrial.

Since 1963, more than eight hundred spacecraft have been launched into geosynchronous orbit, forming a man-made ring of satellites around the Earth.

These satellites are destined to become one of the longest-lasting artifacts of human civilization, quietly floating through space long after every trace of humanity has disappeared from the planet.
Trevor Paglen’s The Last Pictures is a project that marks one of these spacecraft with a visual record of our contemporary historical moment.

Paglen spent five years interviewing scientists, artists, anthropologists, and philosophers to consider what such a cultural mark should be.

Working with materials scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Paglen developed an artifact designed to last billions of years—an ultra-archival disc, micro-etched with one hundred photographs and encased in a gold-plated shell.

In Fall 2012, the communications satellite EchoStar XVI will launch into geostationary orbit with the disc mounted to its anti-earth deck.

While the satellite’s broadcast images are as fleeting as the light-speed radio waves they travel on, The Last Pictures will remain in outer space slowly circling the Earth until the Earth itself is no more.

Trevor Paglen (born in 1974) is an American artist, geographer, and author.
He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where he currently works as a researcher.

Paglen has shown photography and other visual works at numerous museums and galleries including MassMoca, and Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Bellwether Gallery in New York.

He was an Eyebeam Commissioned Artist in 2007 and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

His visual work such as his "Limit Telephotography" and "The Other Night Sky" series has received widespread attention for both his technical innovations and for his conceptual project that involves simultaneously making and negating documentary-style truth-claims.

Trevor Paglen is credited with coining the term "Experimental Geography" to describe practices coupling experimental cultural production and art-making with ideas from critical human geography about the production of space, materialism, and praxis.

He is also known for photographic projects that document government spy satellites, eavesdropping sites, and other objects which, "should not be there".

Here is the link to "Last Pictures" website, and to order your personal copy of the volume which will soon blast into outer space.