Drones and Art

Returning to Lahore from the US, artist Mahwish Chishty decided upon a new subject matter for her paintings: US surveillance drones that have been wreaking havoc along the Pakistani border. Leveraging the local tradition of truck painting, she says, "I wanted people to think maybe what would happen if these drones were friendlier looking, instead of such hard-edged, metallic war machines."

Far more critical is the art of James Bridle's Dronestagram project. Disrupting Instagram's stream of selfies and look-what-I-ate-for-dinner shots, the UK-based artist posts “images of the locations of drone strikes to the photo-sharing site Instagram as they occur." Along with kindred spirits Trevor Paglen and Omer Fast, Bridle is deeply interested in drones and how what they mean in an online age. The Predator drone, he told Vanity Fair, “embodies so many of the qualities of the network. Sight at a distance, action at a distance, and it’s invisible... I started thinking about it as an emanation of the network itself—not just a surveillance platform, but a dark mirror."

Bridle's work these days focuses on "the New Aesthetic," a research project in which he collects " material which points towards new ways of seeing the world, an echo of the society, technology, politics and people that co-produce them."
Pictured (top to bottom):
Mahwish Chishty, X-47B, 2012

James Bridle, Dronestagram ("May 29 2013 - A strike on a mud-built house in Miranshah or the nearby village of Chashma, at 3am, killing 4-7 people. According to local resident Bashir Dawar, “The bodies were badly damaged and beyond recognition.”
James Bridle, Drone Shadow 002, 2012

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