At the end of February Tatiana Bazzichelli, director and curator of the Disruption Network Lab, invited me to be a keynote speaker at Eyes from a Distance: on drone systems and their strategies in Berlin in April.
Disruption Network Lab is an ongoing platform of events and research focused on art, hacktivism and disruption. The Laboratory takes shape through a series of conference events at Studio 1, Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin.
The goal of the Disruption Network Lab is to present and generate new possible routes of social and political action within the framework of hacktivism, digital culture and network economy, focusing on the disruptive potential of artistic practices. The Disruption Network Lab is a conceptual and practical zone where artists, hackers, networkers, critical thinkers and entrepreneurs enter into a dialogue. The programme is developed through artistic presentations, theoretical debates and keynote events. This series of events establishes local and translocal partnerships with other spaces and institutions.
The specific aim of Eyes from a Distance was unerring:
What is the politics and the regime of power beyond drone-systems? Which are the consequences both on militant networks and civil society of an increasing automatism of conflicts? Can we track down the hidden strategies that move target-killings? Can we understand better drone technology? This event combines reflections on the political and technological infrastructure of drone-systems, the use of them in massive and weaponised military programmes, and the artistic and activist response to this.
I was already committed to presentations at the Balsillie School/CIGI and to the AAG Conference in Chicago so, with immense reluctance, I had to decline. Now I know what I missed – not only the wonderful city of Berlin but also a brilliant programme that would have kept me inside on both evenings.
You can find two video clips (one by Brandon Bryant, which I’ve embedded above) published as part of the documentation of the meeting here, and over at We Make Money Not Art, Regine has provided three detailed reports from the meeting (with useful links): The Grey Zone: the (il)legitimacy of targeted killing by drones, Eyes from a Distance: personal encounters with military drones, and Tracking Drones, reporting lives.
Intersecting with the themes raised by Eyes from a Distance, I highly recommend a new essay/work-in-progress by Sara Matthews on ‘Visual Itineraries of the Sovereign: The Drone Gaze‘. It was originally developed for a panel on “The Ethics and Itineraries of Visual Data” at the meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in Montreal in March.