Space Art: The Last Pictures

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Earthrise (NASA/William Anders)

Artist Trevor Paglen was commissioned by Creative Time to create "The Last Pictures", a public art project in space. Paglen has chosen 100 images to put on an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc designed to last billions of years that will be sent into orbit aboard the Echostar XVI satellite soon. Hear him discuss how he chose the images and why. 

Courtesy of Al Jazeera English
Cherry Blossoms
© Hans Hinz / ARTOTHEK
The Pit Scene, Lascaux Cave
Glacier National Park Archives
Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, 1940
U.S. Geological Survey
Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, 2006
Navajo Nation
Narbona Panel, Canyon de Chelly
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce
Waterspout, Florida Keys
[image from public domain]
Suez Canal, Egypt
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce
Dust Storm, Stratford, Texas
NASA/Carla Cioffi
Soyuz Fg Rocket Launch, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce
Typhoon, Japan, Early Twentieth Century
Greek and Armenian Orphan Refugees Experience the Sea for the First Time, Marathon, Greece
NASA/William Anders
Courtesy of Trevor Paglen
Old Operating Theater, St. Thomas Church, Southwark, London
[image from public domain]
Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado
© 2012 Eames Office, LLC (
Glimpses of America, American National Exhibition, Moscow World’s Fair
[image from public domain]
Migrants Seen by Predator Drone, U.S.-Mexico Border
Courtesy of Trevor Paglen
Ultra-archival image disc inside gold plated aluminum shell
Courtesy of Trevor Paglen
Ultra-archival image disc inside gold plated aluminum shell
Courtesy of Trevor Paglen
Ultra-archival image disc inside gold plated aluminum shell


Trevor Paglen

Comments [16]

Kenneth Fingerman

Amazing photos
Kenneth Fingerman

Jun. 04 2013 11:04 PM

I for one, do not feel this series of photos is a representation of what our beautiful planet should be remembered and white? and the subject material? Why was this not a huge collaborative project with photos of all aspects of earth's majesty - overdone with weather.....not impressed at all.....

Sep. 27 2012 06:20 PM

interestly jgarbuz paranoia is not limited to humans

Sep. 27 2012 02:26 PM
mitchel from New York City

Why BW is a good question. Besides, if "anyone" is looking, who knows what their perception of color might be anyway. Different creatures on this planet see colors differently. Who knows what another species might "see".

Sep. 27 2012 12:12 PM
Jim B

Wikipedia gives the earth about a billion years before it gets absorbed by the sun as it evolves into a red giant.

Sep. 27 2012 12:10 PM
Jeff Pappas from Dumbo

Also pretty sure a Gamma ray burst will dispatch those images...

Sep. 27 2012 11:59 AM
Katie from Westchester, NY

I really appreciate the Grinnell Glacier contrasting photo set - I hiked both the Grinnell Glacier hike and the Garden Wall hike (I have a nearly identical photo taken from that hike of the glacier) in GNP this summer and experienced first hand the current state of the receding glacier. The Park has done an excellent job of documenting and bringing to the attention of the park visiters the stark reality of the disappearance of the glaciers. I am happy to see the devastating reality of the disappearance of the last glaciers in the lower 48 could make it on to such a historic and permanent remembrance.

Sep. 27 2012 11:58 AM
Erica from BK

Why in black and white? The diversity of color on our planet is what makes all of its features spectacular and arresting in beauty. There is nothing more earthlike than color

Sep. 27 2012 11:57 AM
Christine from Yorktown

But who is this guy to select images that would represent us all? I appreciate the concept this is really one person's view. And, what was the cost of this project? I dunno, seems like an interesting concept, not sure it came off as that great of a presentation.

Sep. 27 2012 11:57 AM
Ken from Bronx

Bad idea.

Any aliens with the technology to visit us will be much more powerful than we are.

When a military strong civilization encounters a weak one, the results are usually not pretty. Look at Earth history for some particularity nasty examples.

I would prefer NOT to be noticed, thank you.

We should be LISTENING...not TALKING.

Sep. 27 2012 11:56 AM
Pat from Maplewood

I wonder whether the artist is including a device that will be able to read the disk and therefore show the images?

Sep. 27 2012 11:56 AM
david from ditmas park

...maybe a bit short sighted. humans should be around for at least as much longer as we already have been...perhaps it could become a generational project?

Sep. 27 2012 11:53 AM
Jeff Pappas from Dumbo

Hmmm Your kidding only Black n White images ?

Sep. 27 2012 11:52 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

This is great. After the space aliens come and eat us, they will know some of the history of the species they just had for lunch and dinner :)

Sep. 27 2012 11:50 AM
Todd Florio from New York, New York

I'm thrilled to hear a controversial and brilliant artist like Trevor Paglen on one of my favorite shows. Here are some links that your listeners might find useful to find out more about the project and to be able to ask Trevor Paglen and/or Creative Time directly about "The Last Pictures."

Trevor Paglen
Twitter: @trevorpaglen

Creative Time (The presenter of Trevor Paglen's "The Last Pictures")
Twitter: @creativetimeNYC

Curatorial Statement, by Creative Time Chief Curator, Nato Thompson:

Sep. 27 2012 11:38 AM

just an fyi if you are not busy this weekend

Sep. 27 2012 10:32 AM

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