We are in the dawn of the drone age, a turning point in history when the technology of surveillance and remote engagement is changing the way we live and understand the world. Over the past decade, the United States and other countries have increasingly resorted to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially known as drones, as part of a global network of image gathering and data collection employed to monitor collective life and target individuals. As drones redefine contemporary policing and warfare, their impact is filtering into art and visual culture, generating new investigations into issues of agency, power, visibility, technology, and fear.
To See Without Being Seen: Contemporary Art and Drone Warfare presents an international array of contemporary artworks that engage with the geopolitical aspects of drone warfare and surveillance. Comprising video, sculpture, installation, photography, and web-based projects, the artworks in this exhibition raise fundamental questions about undeclared wars, increasingly invisible and seamless military technologies, undeterred surveillance, and the amassing of data. Works by James Bridle, Harun Farocki, Tomas van Houtryve, Trevor Paglen, and Hito Steyerl, among others, offer keen deliberations on these topics.
The exhibition is cocurated by Svea Bräunert, postdoctoral researcher at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies in Potsdam, Germany, and Meredith Malone, associate curator.
Support for the exhibition is provided by the William T. Kemper Foundation, Elissa and Paul Cahn, Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, the Hortense Lewin Art Fund, and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
An accompanying catalog is published by the Kemper Art Museum and includes an introduction by Meredith Malone, an essay by Svea Bräunert, and texts by Trevor Paglen and Hito Steyerl. It is available at the Museum and distributed through University of Chicago Press.
James Bridle, Drone Shadow, 2013. Site-specific installation, Washington, DC. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: James Bridle / booktwo.org.