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Trevor Paglen, whose work The Octopus was recently shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016, is a multidisciplinary artist who focuses on surveillance and intelligence activities – what he terms the ‘invisible war’. As well as his solo work, he collaborated with Laura Poitras in the making of Citizenfour, the award-winning 2014 documentary film about Edward Snowden. Other recent projects include Code Names of the Surveillance State, a video installation in which National Security Agency and GCHQ
surveillance-programme code names were projected onto public buildings, and Trinity Cube in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. In this interview, he reflects on some of the questions with which he grapples in his work, from the nature of contemporary warfare to the tension between privacy and surveillance, and the role of the artist in understanding war in contemporary society.