Trevor Paglen, whose show, "The Other Night Sky" is currently on display at the Berkeley Art Museum, describes the problem pretty succintly in a discussion of Lombardi:
"...(Lombardi's) work depicts networks of relationships. Visually, they appear to be homogenous or 'neutral.' The actual content of relationships he depicts remains obscure (or reduced to financial exchange.) If one imagines Lombardi's work as a didactic tool, I'm not sure that it's very helpful. I would argue that the work is politically misleading because his maps suggest some kind of order to the relationships he depicts when there are actually deep internal contradictions, not to mention much more going on 'outside the frame.'
...on the other hand, I think that Lombardi's work succeeds as 'art' precisely for the reasons it fails as didactic work. I very much like the work when I view it in a more fantastical (as opposed to didactic) way."
It seems to me that Paglen is trying to deal with the "fantastic-gap" in political art. His work consists of flatly paranoid photos of spy satellites flying through constellations The BAM exhibit has about 10 large c-print photos, and a hypnotic installation of a large spinning globe with projections of spy satellites in near earth orbit blinking all across its surface.
Why am I writing about this on the MM blog? I think this work is related to Mrs. Maybe in its effects, if not in its subjects. It stretches back to the oldest of activities - looking at all the little night lights looking down on us, making meaning out of the occluded. Instead of privileging the meaning-making of looking, this work takes part more in an occult 'putting together of pieces.' We have stars, and constellations; what we're looking for and at isn't the hint of an eternally vigilant god or lifeforce, but of government agencies and tech tech tech tech.
Endarkenment, then, is not only a function of the opposite of Enlightenment, it is also the mask under which the madness of daylight America grimaces, glares, and peers.
So, back to the sublime. Sublime surveillance, meditative reconaissance, the unknowable firmament, like everything else in the anthropocene, is full of your face and mine.