You begin with an image. It comes through Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram. The view is unfamiliar, a strange indistinct area from an alien land.
The only thing you know is that this place is a crime scene.
People have been murdered there. By a drone.
There are a few spare facts. Four missiles, more than 16 dead. Little else. Details will remain elusive for some time, because the event took place in a distant area.
And the dead are not people we know.
Who are those caught in the eye of the drone? A terrorist, a man selling tea, a child? We are left to wonder.
It’s this act of wondering which is the real product of Dronestagram, a social media project that disperses these “drones-eye” views across various platforms. James Bridal is the inventive artist who realized he could tap into the drone data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, match it with Google satellite images, and bring it into the everyday lives of safe, comfortable people.
Some argue that such drone strikes engender fear and resentment among the innocent civilians of these areas, and it will be that which will prove the enduring damage of these attacks. But if we don’t know about the bombs, if we don’t read about the victims, if we’re left in the dark, we surrender any role in preventing war or shaping peace.
Which is exactly what powerful authorities prefer. We’ll handle things, they assure us.
Just trust us.
In the ongoing struggle between the forces of concealment and revelation, Dronestagram features the art of quiet exposure, reminding us, oh so politely, to consider the consequences of our secret wars and state assassinations.
Do we step deeper into the image? Or do we look away?