One thing President Barack Obamas lauded transparency will never clear up is our black empire, the classified assemblage of secret sites, operations, and agencies that gobbles up billions of taxpayer dollars every year but doesnt exist, at least to civilians like us. No matter: for that we have artist and geographer Trevor Paglen. Using limit-telephotography and a 7000mm lens, hell climb a mountain and snap a picture of a clandestine Nevada military base 30 miles away. Then hell turn to the sky, ferreting out secret American satellites like Galileo charting Jupiters moons. In his book Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World, Paglen chronicles his adventures, which go from the hi-tech (splendid lenses) to the gumshoe (strolling up to a secret C.I.A. prison and ringing the bell). His efforts are so determined and reporter-y, you might forget that he first made his mark as an artist. Although he reads from Blank Spots today, this month his work appears at 2008 SECA Art Award exhibit at the SFMOMA (opening Feb. 12) and at Altman Siegel Gallery (opening Feb. 27).
Thu., Feb. 5, 7 p.m., 2009