a towering metallic drone spinning into a nosedive dominates a room in the spazio contemporanea in brescia, italy. on its wings the model codes and final locations of fallen drones are inscribed in a small and modest script. entitled ‘drone memorial’, the sculpture is part of an ongoing series of drone-centric projects by art collective IOCOSE called ‘in times of peace’. begun in 2014, the series examines society’s fraught relationship with drones and imagines a life for the popular machines beyond war or conflict, simultaneously questioning if ‘times of peace’ can really exist at all.
the series imagines a life for the popular machines beyond war or conflict
the project marks the third installation in IOCOSE’s investigation into the curious lives of drones. previously, the team recorded ‘drone+’, a video installation of a drone trying to fly a 100 meter sprint while recording its progress on the NIKE+ app. this was followed by ‘drone selfies’, which saw the group imagine drones partaking in casual self-documentation in their spare time. ‘drone memorial’ engages with the more controversial use of modern drones, and stands as a monument of remembrance for drones that have fallen in battle. the sculpture is made of mirrored acrylic and replicates the shape of the aptly named ‘predator’ model, developed by general atomics, one of the primary unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by the US air force and CIA.
‘drone memorial is the symbol of a hypothetical scenario, one where drones share their lives with humans and participate in a world where war no longer exists‘, explain the group. ‘however, the absurdity of a memorial for drones reveals the difficulty of imagining such future, and probably its impossibility’.
the sculpture is made of mirrored acrylic and replicates the shape of the aptly named ‘predator’ model
‘drones are often presented in news media as new kinds of weapons, possibly reshaping warfare by introducing unprecedented strategies based on unmanned operations,’ they continue. ‘the number of human casualties caused by drones has been escalating since 2009, particularly since when barack obama’s administration authorised a rise in the number of drone operations in pakistan, yemen and somalia’. its impossible to separate drones from their negative connotations — war, surveillance — but in a time when fully autonomous AI is no longer a thing of fantasy, and emotional connection to personal tech is an increasingly normalized part of everyday life, IOCOSE ask: in a war-free future, is the loss of a drone treated as a technological failure, or a casualty?
in a war-free future, is the loss of a drone treated as a technological failure, or a casualty?
it’s a question that plays both with science fiction and human empathy. we don’t mourn cars that break down, we don’t mourn computers that crash, but in world where drones aid in everything from delivering pizza to filming the latest blockbuster — even helping in search and rescue — it’s a question worth considering. even if you think they’re just machines, IOCOSE has installed the sculpture with its own GPS tracker which records the location of the giant drone and broadcasts it publicly online. any drone can point toward the monument, wherever it is located, and mourn its fallen comrades.
‘drone memorial’ will be presented at the spazio contemporanea in brescia, italy until november 19th 2016 as part of the gallery’s REFRESH 01 #LAYERS exhibition.
the wings of the sculpture are inscribed with the model numbers of fallen drones
a small GPS trackers broadcasts the coordinates of the sculpture online