Tom Holert
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The seen unseen of drone warfare
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Contemporary warfare has been significantly transformed by the promotion and implementation of unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) into global military operations. Networked remote sensory vision and the drones’ capability to carry deadly missiles entail and facilitate increasingly individualised, racialised, and necropolitical military practices conceptualised as ‘surgical strikes’ or ‘targeted killings’, all in the name of ‘counterinsurgency’. In the absence of publicly accessible documentations of ‘drone vision’, images of drones themselves constitute what is arguably one of the most contested iconographies of the present. The ethical and legal problems engendered by the virtualisation of violence and the panoptical fantasies of persistent vision and continuous threat interfere with the commercial interests and the publicised ideas of ‘clean’ warfare of the military-industrial-media complex. Drones have become a fetishised icon of warfare running out of human measure and control and are henceforth challenged by activist strategies highlighting the blind spots and victims of their deployment.

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Image operations

Visual media and political conflict

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