Hiding in Plain Sight

Trevor Paglen

b. 1974, Camp Springs, Maryland
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Trevor Paglen, Trinity Cube, 2017, irradiated glass from Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Trinitite, 8" × 7-3/4" × 7-7/8" (20.3 cm × 19.7 cm × 20 cm)
First Floor

Trinity Cube (2017) appears to be a minimalist object made of Trinitite, a radioactive glass first produced by the 1945 Trinity nuclear bomb test in New Mexico. The inner cube is fused with irradiated glass found where Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurred in 2011. The first version of this work was installed at the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, as part of the exhibition Don’t Follow the Wind, a project co-developed and curated by the collective Don't Follow the Wind, where it will continue to be irradiated and only viewable by the public when the Exclusion Zone opens again, anywhere between 3-30,000 years from now when officials deem it is safe for the public.

The 1945 nuclear explosion nicknamed “Trinity,” liquified sand instantly, and when it cooled, it reformed into glassy chunks, mostly in an oceanic green, forming a new mineral called trinitite. Trinitite made up a large part of the atomic bomb propaganda narrative; it was linked to the denial that the atomic bombings of Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have caused lingering radiation injury. The unique, glassy, man-made mineral has since been used as jewelry and displayed as artifacts in museums as a physical reference to the first atomic bomb. Paglen’s gem-like sculpture intertwines the histories of American nuclear technology and current circumstances in Fukushima, where TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was built by the US-based power conglomerate GE (General Electric).

Trevor Paglen, RAVEN 2 in Corona Borealis (Signals Intelligence Satellite; USA 200), 2015, c-print, 60" × 48" (152.4 cm × 121.9 cm) 61-1/8" × 49-1/8" (155.3 cm × 124.8 cm), framed
Second Floor

Trevor Paglen’s photographs explore political geographies by documenting interconnected systems of data, energy, power, and surveillance. In RAVEN 2 in Corona Borealis (Signals Intelligence Satellite; USA 200), Paglen captures a telecommunications satellite in orbit amidst the constellation Corona Borealis, or “northern crown,” that is known for its distinct shape. The satellite is camouflaged amidst the stars: the two subjects become one to form an altered constellation where human intervention with space appears undetected.

Trevor Paglen, NSA-Tapped Undersea Cables, North Pacific Ocean, 2016, c-print, 48" × 72" × 2" (121.9 cm × 182.9 cm × 5.1 cm) 49-1/8" × 73-1/8" × 2" (124.8 cm × 185.7 cm × 5.1 cm), frame

NSA-Tapped Undersea Cables, North Pacific Ocean, is part of series in which Paglen documents fiber optic cables that web the seafloor worldwide. Here, a specific landscape beneath the North Pacific Ocean is exposed. Captured in these ethereal images—a star-filled abstracted landscape and deep blue, hazy monochrome—are recorded moments of human interference and compliance with their immediate environments.

Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen is known for investigating the invisible through the visible, with a wide-reaching approach that spans image making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. Paglen has had numerous one-person exhibitions, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2019); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2015); Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing (2015); Protocinema Istanbul (2013); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2013); and Vienna Secession (2010). He has participated in group exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2008, 2010, 2018); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2014); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2012); Tate Modern, London (2010), and numerous other institutions.