Trevor Paglen documents democracy's most obscure swamps: secret testing installations that don't appear on maps, extraordinary rendition centers run by the military in lawless corners of the world. While these subjects are often the disreputable domain of conspiracy thrillers and Coast to Coast AM, Paglen is a serious journalist concerned with the overreaches of a militarized economy that has ballooned due to a lack of oversight and post-9/11 paranoia. Paglen's previous books, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights and Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagons Secret World, were remarkable works of gumshoe journalism, unearthing a giant black military infrastructure by sifting through countless appropriations documents and declassified maps. Paglen's latest, Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes, finds the author illuminating the dark corners of the military's secret geography through photography, another one of his pursuits. Paglen engages in an impressive range of technical skullduggery, using cutting-edge optical systems to document covert sites from miles away, and aggregating the data of amateur trackers to draw a portrait of military satellites that allegedly do not exist. He utilizes the tools of the spooks to refract their ever-watching gaze back at them, and he unearths a military infrastructure that is invisible by design.
Thu., Oct. 21, 7 p.m., 2010