Activist Art Against Drone Killing Redesigns The Landscape in Pakistan

Dees Illustration

By Joe Wright

The continuing impact of unmanned drones across the target countries of the U.S. has inspired many short videos that attempt to personalize the death and destruction that has been wrought. One of the most poignant is titled “Living Under Drones.” This 7-minute video can be seen here.

Another short video which really captures the general lack of compassion and disconnect that drones inspire can be seen in the montage below where the drone chief himself, Barack Obama, laughs it up about the use of predator drones. As his little inside joke is juxtaposed with the heart-breaking reality of the innocents killed by actions Obama has commanded, it further highlights the ruthlessness of remote control death and destruction, as well as the personalities of those in power.

The fact remains that even the warmongering Brookings Institution has concluded that there are 10 civilians killed to every 1 “militant” in Pakistan alone. Obama denies this, and a range of other documented evidence, when he states that only “precision strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates” are undertaken.

A new form of activist art is taking shape to ensure that human beings should be recognized as more than just “collateral damage” in a war that the vast majority of global citizens have no interest in continuing. This art form aims to literally get right in the face of those who pull the trigger.

As pointed out by The Verge, the people killed by drones are viewed within military culture as nothing more than insects:

In military parlance, a “bugsplat” is the targeted kill in a drone strike, though that term and the practice have come under fire for dehumanizing the surrounding, often unseen deaths involved.

In lieu of a sudden change of heart from unrepentant murderers and murderer wannabes who sign up for employment in the growing field of terror as a career opportunity, it is up to the rest of us to humanize what is being done in our names.

Pakistan is of course a fitting site for protest, as many areas have been decimated in the most impersonal way possible. A group of village artists has developed a  new strategy to increase visibility for past and future victims.

(T)he artist collective worked with the Foundation for Fundamental Rights to install a massive portrait of a victim that would otherwise be invisible to drone operators and satellites. “The piece was laid out in KPK province about 2 weeks ago and then unrolled into the field by village locals,” Saks Afridi, an artist and member of the group, told The Verge. Depicted there is a child whose identity isn’t revealed, but reportedly lost both parents and two siblings in a drone attack. The project draws inspiration from Parisian artist J R’s “Inside Out” project, which plastered photographs of people amid Times Square’s advertising landscape. Indeed, what J R told The New York Times last year rings true with this effort; that is, it’s people coming together to say “We exist.” (emphasis added)

As stated on the art collective’s website, there is a secondary purpose toward creating a permanent record:

The installation is also designed to be captured by satellites in order to make it a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites. (Source)




This peaceful form of resistance and public shaming has yet to be tested. One can only hope that it at least helps to inspire some soul searching at a date past conducting any new deeds of soullessness.

As one former drone operator found out, it can be a harsh judgement to face.

As the proliferation of drones spreads across the globe, so too should new ways of inspiring people to change their course from nihilist tendencies and embrace the best of what humanity can offer. Art always has been one of the most effective means toward doing that.

Please visit “#NotABugSplat” to learn more about this initiative.


Recently by Joe Wright:


Activist Post Daily Newsletter

Subscription is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL
Free Report: How To Survive The Job Automation Apocalypse with subscription

Be the first to comment on "Activist Art Against Drone Killing Redesigns The Landscape in Pakistan"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.