Paglen’s Spy Satellites

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s a super secret spy satellite?!

This is the stuff of Ian Fleming, mixed with a bit of high art.

Trevor Paglen has spent years photographing things in the night sky that supposedly don’t exist. Using time-lapse photography, he has captured 1,500 images of mysterious objects.

A small selection of these photos are now on view at the Berkeley Art Museum.

And these photos don’t skimp on political symbolism:

In taking these photos, Paglen is trying to draw a metaphorical connection between modern government secrecy and the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Galileo’s time.

“What would it mean to find these secret moons in orbit around the earth in the same way that Galileo found these moons that shouldn’t exist in orbit around Jupiter?” Paglen says.

Satellites are just the latest in Paglen’s photography of supposedly nonexistent subjects. To date, he’s snapped haunting images of various military sites in the Nevada deserts, “torture taxis” (private planes that whisk people off to secret prisons without judicial oversight) and uniform patches from various top-secret military programs.

…well, at the very least they’re pretty cool. And we’ve been interested in this subject for a while, ever since we learned about the “MISTY” satellite program.

I’m guessing the “powers that be” won’t be too pleased with Paglen’s exhibit, judging by the steps they take to ensure that their programs stay secret. Remember when the DoD shot down the spy satellite to keep information from getting into the wrong hands?

And this exhibit isn’t the first time Paglen has given the world a glimpse into the intriguing world of secret military programs. His book, “I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me” offers a rare look inside the Pentagon’s Black Budget, through images of the patches worn by the nation’s stealthy, high-tech warriors.

Keep it comin’ Paglen. With stuff like this, who needs science fiction?