Design and Violence


James Bridle

Imagining life under drones

These life-sized outlines of various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are public artworks executed by the writer, publisher, artist, and technologist James Bridle. Many military drones fly higher than 30,000 feet, where they often operate undetected either for surveillance, or for launching missiles at remote targets. This increasingly ubiquitous but stealthy tool of modern warfare is all but unseen, and the artist combats this by marking out the shadow of the drone in urban settings. The series, produced in collaboration with designer Einar Sneve Martinussen, forms one part of James’ wide-ranging visual and textual activism dealing with issues of the post-privacy era: secret surveillance, extraordinary rendition, and the systems that permit and encourage such violence against and among citizen-subjects. The increasing use of UAVs, among other recent designs for conflict, provokes discussion about autonomous military technologies and about the ethics of using efficient but increasingly unaccountable designs in warfare.

Drone with white outline: James Bridle (British, b. 1980) and Einar Sneve Martinussen (Norwegian, b. 1982). Drone Shadow 002, Istanbul, Turkey. 2012. Road-marking paint, 49′ x 30′ (15 x 9 m). Drone Shadow 003, Brighton, U.K. 2013. Road-marking paint, 66′ x 36′ (20 x 11m). Image courtesy of James Bridle/ Photo by James Bridle