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Julie Anand and Damon Sauer: Ground Truth: Corona Landmarks


Summary Note

Artists Julie Anand and Damon Sauer photographed cold war era calibration targets, overlaying the images of the sky with the paths of orbiting satellites that were present when the photograph was taken, thus exploring vast networks of information. Materials include artist information and correspondence, exhibition and work prints, exhibition ephemera, and press materials.

Biographical Note

Julie Anand is associate professor of photography in the School of Art and senior sustainability scholar in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. She received a B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona in 1997 and an M.F.A. University of New Mexico in 2005. Her projects, informed by a background in ecology and geology, often explore material culture, body/land relations and issues of interdependency/boundary. Material Histories, large montages of artifacts collected on walks that act as socio-environmental mirrors, were featured in the exhibition Nowhere to Hide: Three Artists in the Desert at the ASU Art Museum in 2009. This work was recently published in the text "Art & Politics: A Small History for Social Change after 1945" (Mesch, 2013). Anand’s honors include Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability Research Grant (2013) for a collaborative children’s art project in Honduras, Evelyn Smith Endowed Professorship for the School of Art (2010), Katherine Herberger Faculty Enrichment in the Arts Grant (2010) for Common Ground—a collaborative public art/landscape design, the Institute for Humanities Research Fellowship (2007) to explore ecological art, and an Artist Grant from the Contemporary Forum of the Phoenix Art Museum (2006). She has lectured at the Geological Society of America, the Art Institute of San Francisco, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Phoenix Art Museum among other contexts.
Parallel to her solo art practice, Anand sustains a collaborative art practice with her partner Damon Sauer. Both artists received their Master of Fine Art degrees in Photography from the University of New Mexico in 2005. They use an interdisciplinary, haptic approach to lens-based media to interrogate boundaries and to explore the body as a site of perception. Art New England favorably reviewed Anand and Sauer’s first formal collaboration in 2004. Their ongoing collaborative work has since been exhibited at venues including RayKo Gallery in San Francisco, the LA Center for Digital Art, School 33 Art Center in Baltimore, the El Paso Museum of Art, Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago, and Museo de Arte, Cuidad Juarez. They received an Artist Project Grant by the Arizona Commission on the Arts for their shredded and hand-woven works investigating boundaries, Between. They have co-lectured in contexts including the University of Oklahoma, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Rhode Island College, and the Southwestern/Western Regional SPE Conference on Collaboration held at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ in 2007. Their current project, “Ground Truth—Corona Landmarks,” is in the collection of the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It was awarded a Herberger Institute Collaborative Research Seed Grant in 2013 and a Land Arts Mobile Research Center/ Mellon Foundation Grant in 2017. This contemporary archaeology investigates the remains of Cold War satellite calibration targets in the Sonoran Desert. It was recently featured in Wired magazine, Hyperallergic, Places Journal, National Geographic magazine and Politken (print newspaper of Denmark). They had a solo exhibition at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. in 2018.

Scope and Content

“Ground Truth: Corona Landmarks,” in its broadest sense, investigates an individual’s position on earth in the contemporary context of vast networks of information. The artists explore this situation by visualizing the expanding pervasiveness of satellite technology in relation to a historically significant set of satellite calibration targets. This system of approximately 256 calibration targets within the Sonoran Desert was created as part of the joint CIA/Air Force-classified secret surveillance program called Corona, which began in 1959 and ended in 1972. Cameras on satellites were used to take aerial photographs of the Soviet Union and China, and the photographs taken were recovered by way of physical capsules of ejected film. The cameras were calibrated using the 60 feet in diameter calibration targets that were spaced a mile apart within a sixteen square-mile grid that provided a reference for scale and ensured images were in focus—in essence, an array of ground truth markers. The program also produced the world’s first maps of earth from space.

Julie Anand and Damon Sauer spent three years photographing the markers as part of an ongoing project. In their images, the sky in each concrete target image is overlaid with the paths of orbiting satellites that were present at the very moment the photograph was taken. The artists are intrigued by the way that these markers of space have become markers of time, representing a poignant moment in geopolitical and technologic social history:

“We privilege the skies in each of our compositions to give visual weight to the density of what is imperceptible miles above us. To further engage this idea, we map the specific satellites present in the sky at each site at the moment of photographing using a satellite tracking application. We enjoy the way that these myriad points and orbital arcs emphasize the ubiquity of this contemporary technology encircling the globe. Our exploration of Corona’s remains thus demarcates a rich anthropologic moment and serves as evidence of the human desire to see from above.”

Materials include artist information and correspondence, exhibition and work prints, exhibition ephemera, and press materials.


This archive consists of four folders, organized by material type and chronological project progression.
  • 1 Artist Information and Correspondence: 2006 – 2019
  • 2 Project Materials: 2013 – 2016
  • 3 Exhibition Ephemera: 2017 – 2018
  • 4 Press Materials: 2017 – 2019

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

1.5 cubic feet



Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1802: David Maisel: Proving Ground

Related Publications

Anand, Julie. The Peculiar Intersection of Matter and Meaning. Albuquerque, N.M. Thesis: University of New Mexico, 2005.

Broken Ground: New Directions in Land Art. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts. 2017.

Center for Land Use Interpretation. The Lay of the Land. Culver City, CA: Center for Land Use Interpretation, Winter 2011.

Coolidge, Matt and Sarah Simons, eds. Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America with the Center for Land Use Interpretation. New York, NY: Metropolis Books, 2006.

Cosgrove, Dennis and William L. Fox, Photography and Flight. London, UK: Reaktion, 2010.

Paulson, Kris. Here/There: Telepresence, Touch, and Art at the Interface. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2017.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 122

    • Folder 1 Artist Information and Correspondence, 2006 – 2019
    • Folder 2 Project Materials, 2013 – 2016
    • Folder 3 Exhibition Ephemera, 2017 – 2018
    • Folder 4 Press Materials, 2017 – 2019