I have had this model of a drone for a while now, an Italeri 1/72 RQ-1 Predator.
The final aim has been to mount it like the victorian collectors of insects, and start to present the machinic Phylum in this victorian, museum style.
I have finally put it into a frame.
and I expect to hang it on my wall shortly, i doubt it will be in a gallery near you anytime soon though.
Last night at an event at the Lighthouse in Brighton, Cathal Coughlan and I unveiled publicly for the first time a piece of work we have been collaborating on called Palindrone. We installed, for the evening, v1.0 of the work in the conference room at the Lighthouse venue.
Palindrone is a work that was conceived during my residency at the Lighthouse Studio programme. Whilst at the studio I started playing around with some of the Buddha Machines that I have and started a discussion with Natalie and Honor about drones. The two started to come together quite quickly, initially with an idea to create a circle of sound objects, like the Buddha Machines, each playing different samples to create a soundscape. The idea became simplified to create a background drone and using code, monitors the reports on drone strikes that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism maintains. If a new report is added to the database (which gets reflected by the twitter feed @dronestream, which is run by artist Josh Begley) it triggers an interrupt sound over the background drone.
Whilst playing with the Buddha Machines I remembered a story I had read earlier in the year about the psychological effect the drones were having, specifically on the children. They would not sleep, afraid of the drone in the distance. The drone was a terrorising object, above communities it installed a state of control where activity had to be curtailed, self censored for fear that it might ‘attract the attention of a drone’.
I found a press release from Reprieve, about the psychological effect the drones were having and this was presented along with the piece at the installation.
This is the panopticon, the idea that a central body of control might be observing your activity, so you modify your behavior in case it is watching. The drone though imposes American/British/Western military control over communities in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Installed, the piece is a sound in a room, at Lighthouse the conference room had subdued lighting and on a table we had some texts that I have been investigating whilst developing the work.
The main sample loop has been constructed by Cathal, we have currently sourced a number of drone samples from the internet and laid these together to create the main loop, the interrupt sound is again a sample based on the sound from a military encrypted message.
Version 1.0 is still a work in progress, we are developing how the sound should be constructed, how much detail and noise we want in that main sound and clearing the use of samples as well as investigating the possibility of capturing our own samples to use in the piece.
The work is an artistic response to a situation that has come to our attention, from investigating this further and in constructing the work we are also highlighting possible responses from a design perspective.
We will document the evolution of the piece here, as well as notify of any installations. If you have any questions on the piece then please get in touch.
I wrote this for Mute Magazine, back in April 1999. It was my first attempt at getting down my thoughts on what is happening, and has not really stopped happening. It is simplistic and please do crit in the comments.
The current war inn the Balkans is being called the first Internet war. Previously, the Gulf war was hailed as the first information war. That is, information war in the terms set out by Bruce Sterling, Alvin Toffler, Jean Baudrillard et al – fought by a war machine using the latest information technology to strike at the enemy accurately, quickly and, notionally, ‘without risk to human life’.
Of course, the main front in this information conflict was back at home, packaging and selling the war to the general public. The information war was fought in our living rooms – by each side against it’s own populace. In information conflict, missiles and bombs go on destroying; civilians and soldiers go on being killed, but politicians require at least the illusion of a public mandate to sanction military attacks.
Now, eight years later, we have a similar situation, although this time part of the conflict is taking place online: both war machines involved in the conflict are using websites and newsgroups to spin their media hype.
At the same time, the NATO website was supposedly hit by a denial of service attack, a flood of pings requesting a response from the server and reducing it’s response time to a crawl. In America at least one person took it upon himself to do the same to a pro-Serbian website, using an off-the-shelf spam package.
All of these actions fit wonderfully into the new-speak of military action: ‘SYN Flooding’, ‘Denial of Service Attack’, etc – technical terms that generals would love to be able to use to describe aspects of their bombing campaigns.
Information war has to be constructive, not destructive. Instead of flooding the Net with SYN packets, we should be listening to it’s flood of voices. Away from the electronic toys of crackers and wannabe hackers, the information war is being fought with dialogue, conversation and the broadcast of ideas.
In media terms, the Internet is not quite up there with the televisions, but it’s getting closer to the living room corner. When it does, will we visit the site of consent, as we did before, or will we search out genuinely alternative sources of information? Instead of listening to the news about government sites being brought down by hackers, will we instead find sites built and emails sent by those on both sides of the conflict?