Trevor Paglen. Image courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Who is Trevor Paglen giving his book to this Christmas?

The author and artist tells us about his highs and lows of 2018 and who’ll be getting a great gift

If everything goes as planned, Trevor Paglen will have an early Christmas present for us all. The artist and activist’s Orbital Reflector, his “singularly non-utilitarian satellite”, is due to launch later this month, aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Florida.

Once in orbit, this bright, shiny object will be visible to the naked eye and will serve no military, scientific or commercial purpose. In this sense, Paglen says, it “represents the opposite of every other space programme.”

By launching the Orbital Reflector the artist draws our attention to all the other, less prominent, and perhaps more nefarious bits of space junk circling in our skies. It’s a typically critical and inventive work from this challenging artist, author and MacArthur Foundation fellow, who has dug into secret US military operations, AI programming and digital surveillance, as he attempts to reveal some of the unseen workings of the modern world.

However, the Orbital Reflector isn’t the only present he has planned for his supporters. Here’s what 2018 was like from his point of view, and who will be getting a copy of his book.

What was the thing that inspired you most this year? Seeing so many people organize against the madness that has taken over our civic institutions.

What was your personal highlight? Developing deeper relationships to the people close to me. 

What annoyed you most? Being ripped off by arts institutions.

What can we expect from you in 2019? Major new installations with the Prada foundation in Milan, the Barbican in London and a few more things I've got up my sleeve.

Who will you give your Phaidon book to for Xmas and why? I'm going to give it to the people who've supported me over this incredibly hectic year.


Trevor Paglen
Trevor Paglen

For more on Trevor Paglen’s work, life and outlook, order a copy of his book here.