“In one sense, The Last Pictures is a grand gesture in line withThe Family of Man or the record NASA put on the Voyager spacecraft. These kind of meta-gestures have largely been abandoned by contemporary artists, for a huge number of quite good reasons.
On the other hand, what does it mean, as an artist, to be working at a moment where we are afraid of making gestures that are too big?
Having said all of that, The Last Pictures is a deeply self-contradictory project. If it is a grand gesture like Family of Man, then it is a grand gesture about the failure of grand gestures.”
—Trevor Paglen on The Last Pictures, a project in which he’ll launch a disk containing 100 images of Earth civilization into space, to be discovered by future civilizations within the next 5 billion years. The project begins today in New York, with the launch of a lecture series and book release. The satellite goes up next month.
Pictured: The Golden Record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper phonograph disk that was placed aboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft upon their launch in 1977. The contents, selected by a panel chaired by Carl Sagan, consisted of “115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals.”