Trevor Paglen Photo of UK Surveillance Center Adorns Tube Platform

An English Landscape (American Surveillance Base near Harrogate, Yorkshire) Trevor Paglen Photo: Art on the Underground

The most recent addition to the Art on the Underground program in London is an unusual one: The beautiful image of a Yorkshire landscape overshadowed by an intelligence spy station is a departure from the usual brilliantly colorful works that have previously been commissioned to decorate tube platform walls as a part of the program. The photograph, titled An English Landscape (American Surveillance Base near Harrogate, Yorkshire), is the work of American artist and author Trevor Paglen. It shows Menwith Hill, an RAF base that supplies intelligence to the UK and the US.

Paglen authored the book Blank Spots on the Map: the Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World after being struck by the lack of visual evidence of the vast international web of security surveillance. Paglen writes:

Digital surveillance programs require concrete data centres; intelligence agencies are based in real buildings; surveillance systems ultimately consist of technologies, people, and the vast network of material resources that supports them. If we look in the right places at the right times, we can begin to glimpse America’s vast intelligence infrastructure.

Louise Coysh, the program manager, comments: “Art on the Underground is delighted to bring an artist of Trevor Paglen’s standing and importance to our flagship site. I’ve no doubt this work will stimulate thought and debate during the rush-hour commute.” The work will fill the length of the 62-meter platform at the Gloucester Road tube station in London, to be installed this week.

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