2017 | The Operators and The Targets

“This movie in effect may resensitize people who thought they were desensitized to violence”

Steven Spielberg about Saving Private Ryan (link)

THE OPERATORS AND THE TARGETS consists of 3 series of modified screenshots and one single-channel video. The print series depict 3 aspects or participants of drone warfare, i.e. the operators of the drones (in their containers), the drones themselves (as seen from the ground), and the people targeted by the drones (as seen by the operators). The video tries to describe the relation between The Operators and The Targets and how these influence each other through the physical presence of the drones.

Using available online U.S. military promotional and drone combat videos, I try to show the humane, judicial and visual grey area involved in the drone killing system; e.g. the dehumanization which occurs when warfare is reduced to a combination of constant surveillance and a predator vs. prey ‘hunt’, the blurring of human judgement and responsibility which occurs when warfare is dictated by technocratic terms of efficiency and political concerns of displaying power without casualties, and the role and impact of surveillance technology and imagery as an intermediary between the operators and their targets.

Does surveillance technology and imagery help to desensitize us? When do we stop seeing the other as a human being? Can art ‘resensitize’ its audience, as suggested in the quote above?

Please watch the movie full-screen and with headphones (-and the volume high!)

The Operators and The Targets. Single channel video, stereo, duration 12:25.
I used US online military promotional videos about drones and their operators, and online drone combat footage, to explore the relationship between ‘The Operators’ and ‘The Targets’.

The Targets. Prints.
Victims of drone and gunship attacks, close-up and enlarged, just before they are killed.

Sky above. Prints.
Screenshots of drones in the sky.

The Operators. Prints (in progress)
Drone operators in the control containers.