Via the New Inquiry, film director and artist/inventor Alex Rivera on what the unmanned aerial devices and our morbid fascination with them signify, and the hope beyond the horror:
The drone is the most visceral and intense expression of the transnational/telepresent world we inhabit. In almost every facet of our lives, from the products we use, to the food we consume, from the customer service representatives around the planet who work in the U.S. via the telephone, to the workers who leave their families and travel from all corners of the world to care for children in the U.S., in every aspect of our lives we live in a trans-geographic reality. The nonplace, the transnational vortex, is everywhere, ever present.
The military drone is a transnational and telepresent kill system, a disembodied destroyer of bodies. As such, the drone is the most powerful eruption and the most beguiling expression of the transnational vortex. The reason it has become a pop-cultural phenomenon and an object of fascination and study for people in many different sectors is that it is an incandescent reflection, the most extreme expression of who we are and what we’ve become generally.
Every technology is invented with an agenda, whether the automobile, the Internet, the television, what have you. These innovations are built with corporate or military agendas, and when they become accessible, they almost immediately become contested sites. You have urban youth morphing the automobile and artists and activists deploying television, the Internet, all these technologies being modified, hacked, and dispatched in innovative ways. The drone seems like, for the first time, to be giving us access to a third dimension, in a sense. We spend our days with our feet on the ground, but the idea that we could build a sculpture that flies, or that you could conduct your own countersurveillance from the air, all seem like organic and predictable developments. Once we get a hold of a technology like drones, artists and activists will redefine and redeploy it.