If all goes as planned, the communications satellite EchoStar XVI will be launched into space from Kazakhstan in October 2012, and will reach an eventual orbit around 24,000 miles above the equator. Aboard the satellite will be a silicon disk covered by a gold-plated aluminum jacket nano-etched with 100 images from Earth, left for future civilizations to discover and decode. These “last pictures” may be just that: with no atmospheric drag, the satellite’s lifespan is expected to be nearly five billion years—likely well beyond that of our culture as we know it. Characterizing the project as a “cave painting from the 21st century,” Trevor Paglen recently discussed the project, its genesis, meaning, and how it continues the critical—and political—inquiry of his past works.
The Last Pictures will be inaugurated Wednesday, Sept. 19, in New York with talks featuring Paglen, Werner Herzog, and others.8 months ago