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War at the of light: artists and drone

Omer Fast, 5000 Is the Best, 2011, digital stills © Omer Fast

“We it in, and we’re given all the clearances are necessary, all the approvals and everything and then we do something called the of God – the Marines like to call it the of God. It’s a laser marker. We just send out a of laser and when the troops put on night vision goggles just see this light looks like it’s from heaven. Right on the coming out of nowhere, from the It’s quite beautiful.”

quote from Omer 5000 Is the Best . 2011.

Virilio, in his 1998 book Vision Machine’, predicted a that “will be capable of and perceiving in our place”. A key concept in writing is  dromology,  or the logic of The one and simple rule of technology has been that of ever-increasing and this rule seems to fundamental aspects of warfare and Real space has been by real time because we can information from everywhere on the in real-time, reducing human to a kind of ‘polar inertia’.

Last week, US immigration and interrogation  of Pakistan politician Kahn – a vehement critic of US attacks in Pakistan – as he boarded a from Canada to New York, a spotlight on the use of unmanned aerial (UAVs) in warfare. UAVs, or are aircraft either controlled by from the ground or autonomously a pre-programmed mission. They fall into two categories: used for reconnaissance and surveillance, and armed with missiles and Although British and US Reaper and drones are physically in Afghanistan and control is via satellite from a base outside Las Vegas, Ground crews launch from the conflict zone, operation is handed over to at video screens. Armed were first used in the war, but their use has dramatically in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Nevarez and Alex Rivera,

Contemporary artists have vigorously engaged with the of war and its consequences over the last since the commencement of Bush’s “war on terror” and the Iraq Unsurprisingly, there have a string of recent artists’ exploring the rapidly escalating use and of drones in surveillance and warfare, as Angel Nevarez and Alex remote-controlled “low-rider” spy drone, at the United States-Mexico border and by anyone with an Internet and photojournalist Noor Behram’s documentation of the human toll of strikes in Pakistan.

Trevor Paglen, Reaper (Indian Springs, NV Distance – 2 2012

Two artists’ exhibitions in the Brighton Photo Biennial, theme was ‘Agents of Change’, the subject of remote warfare and through works that at the time unpick the role of the or video in the propagation of ideas, and the assumption of the documentary as

Trevor Paglen is known for his researched documentation of “black of secret government activity, he photographs using specialized His show at Lighthouse, Brighton, photographic works drawn two series:  Limit Telephotography . in the artist adapted astronomy to reveal classified, covert US installations, including drone in remote parts of south-west and  The Other Night Sky . his of classified American surveillance photographs are an uneasy blend of allure, art-historical references, and subject matter. They our attention not only to the geography of operations – the remote sites, and the of sky and space – but also to the mechanisation of and its implications in a global arena of tension and warfare. His distant of partially visible airplane drone aircraft and strange are blurred, the images of spy satellites use exposure to show the bright of satellite paths. The exhibition includes Paglen’s 2010 work  Drone Vision . a of unencrypted video intercepted by an satellite hacker.

Trevor Paglen, Keyhole Crystal from Glacier (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 2008

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Omer Fast’s chilling narrative film 5000 Feet Is the Best warfare and its psychological impact on a pilot. Fast’s unsettling construct contemporary stories a masterly grasp of storytelling, time, facts and personal exposing of the problematic assumptions of and truth. He often presents his in a looped structure, with no start or end point, and challenges our in the tale by revealing its construction – the actor auditioning for a part, for or repeating a section but altering it.

Feet Is the Best  is based on that the artist had with a Predator drone aerial vehicle operator with traumatic stress disorder, now as a Las Vegas casino security As I enter the space, the film an overhead shot of a boy on a bike across an arid landscape a settlement. The voiceover is of an interview a former drone operator the detail that he could see the drone is at 5000 feet or “the kind of shoes a was wearing, if they were a cigarette, their posture”.

Omer Fast, 5000 is the Best, screen shot,

The film interweaves and blurs and fiction. It is structured around dramatized sequences. Each in the same way, in dark room, the pilot (an actor) on the bed facing his interviewer, presumably Each time Fast “What’s the difference between you and actually in an airplane?”, and the pilot “Nothing, we’re doing the thing”, to which Fast “But you’re not a real provoking each time a outburst from the drone who then falls into a story, sometimes seemingly which we watch dramatised on the screen. One story is about a man who as a train driver, operates the smoothly for an entire day, but is that night breaking his own home (having left his in his borrowed uniform). The interviewer “Was the man in this story in your unit?” The drone replies shortly: “No. a metaphor.” A second story is of a in a casino who engage in a seduction to rob casino customers. The last is of a family – personified as a white, family – who abandon their to avoid some unknown only to meet a tragedy on the “Mom, Dad, Johnny, and Zoe” pack their into a station wagon. On a dirt road, they see a of men planting an improvised explosive The image cuts to the view a drone. The family’s car drives towards the men. There is a noise from the sky …

The stories are interspersed with the of the interview, where the drone talks of his work and of his psychological over his responsibility for killing: see a lot of death … doing this. You had to there is so much loss of that is a direct result of

Remote warfare aims to the public, as well as the operators of the from the people “over Paglen’s work exposes the and mechanics of such warfare while Fast attempts to the perceptual connections between “us and to show that, despite prediction that such will lead to the ‘automation of killing is still a personal and experience, even when by speed-of-light telepresence.

Omer 5000 Feet is the Best, shot, 2011

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