Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 252: The Other Night Sky

Trevor Paglen, from The Other Night Sky

The Other Night Sky

“The Other Night Sky” is a project to track and photograph classified American satellites in Earth orbit, a total of 189 covert spacecraft. To develop the body of work, I was assisted by observational data produced by an international network of amateur “satellite observers.” To translate the observational data into a useable form, I spent almost two years working with a team of computer scientists and engineers at the Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology to develop a software model to describe the orbital motion of classified spacecraft.

With these tools, I am able to calculate the position and timing of overhead reconnaissance satellite transits and photograph them with telescopes and large-format cameras using a computer-guided mechanical mount. The resultant skyscapes are marked by trails of sunlight reflected from the hulls of obscure spacecraft hurtling through the night.

In developing this project, I have been primarily inspired by the methods of early astronomers like Kepler and Galileo, who documented previously-unseen moons of Jupiter in the early 17th Century. Like contemporary reconnaissance satellites, Jupiter’s moons weren’t supposed to “exist,” but were nonetheless there. With this series, I want to ask what it means to see the traces of “secret moons” in the contemporary night sky."

See more images on Trevor's site.

Read more about how this actually works on the BLDG BLOG.

If you are on west coast you can currently see Trevor's work at the SFMOMA.
If you are in the east you can see his show starting next friday at Bellweather.

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