Modern technology like GPS and Kinect
[a motion-sensing device used in video games] brings people closer, but this same technology is also used by the military to distance and hide things. One of the best examples of this is drones. They’re powerful, dangerous, and invisible. To me, that’s disturbing, so I wanted to make them a bit more visible.
I get my information on drone strikes mainly through the Bureau of Investigative Journalism
, which collates reports of strikes from a variety of sources – from the local and international media, and in some cases from witnesses on the ground. I’ll look at those reports and try to find the strike locations on Google Maps. Sometimes I can find a photo of the precise village where an attack took place; other times it’s more approximate. But even in those cases, the landscapes I find are going to be pretty close to the actual site, and these are still places most people don’t see very often. The point is to make these places feel real.
“Posting the photos on Instagram emphasises that this is something that’s going on now, all the time”
A huge amount of information is already out there, since the Bureau of Investigative Journalism publishes all of its reports on its website http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/, and yet the reality of drone strikes still doesn’t seem to get through to most people. Making these places visible seems to help. Instagram is immediate; posting the photos there emphasises that this is something that’s going on now, all the time.
I think it’s great that the project is getting so much attention. However, the deeply unpleasant side to this is that I’ve got myself into a position of always waiting for a drone strike to happen, which is not a nice place to be. Personally, I think drones are a horrific piece of technology. They are a violation of not only international law [the UN has suggested
they may even constitute war crimes], but also any kind of moral and human standards. There’s very strong, clear evidence
that those killed in these attacks are not all linked to terrorism. Drone strikes in Afghanistan are part of a declared war. However in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan, they’re part of an undeclared war and are purposefully kept under wraps, which I believe sets a deeply worrying precedent in international affairs.