Disappearing, appearing, and reappearing
Imaging the human body in drone warfare
in Drone imaginaries
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The image operations of drone warfare oscillate between a disappearance of the human figure and its obstinate re-appearance. While drone crews fly their missions from bases in the US and hence put their bodies out of harm’s reach, people in the target regions are subject to the kind of warfare that targets individuals and reduces kill boxes to the size of the human body. However, if one takes operators’ testimonies and the number of civilian casualties into account, the drone’s optics regularly fail their task. What the drone is meant to detect are individual bodies; yet, what it actually transmits are abstract landscapes with human figures reduced to mere shadows. A number of artists have picked up on this dynamic between landscape and body that, according to art historical terminology, can be described as a tension between figure and ground. In order to trace that tension, the chapter will, for the first time, juxtapose works by Noor Behram and Seth Price.

Drone imaginaries

The power of remote vision

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