Sunday, December 14, 2014

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker | Night Sky Drones

Video: After the Drones, text and voices: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
Art and sound: Jackson 2bears

When the Sky Grew a Warlike Eye

More than ever, real power in the twenty-first century is space-bound--globalized, atmospheric, instantaneous.

It is not that time has disappeared, but that the medium of time itself has been everywhere reduced, reconfigured, and subordinated to the language of spatialization. That is the meaning of “real-time” as part of the contemporary language of power—time itself as an otherwise empty, locative coordinate in the spatial networks of communication surrounding us. But if that is the case, if, indeed, power has taken to the air, literally taken flight with the technological capacity provided by drones to turn the sky into a warlike eye, that would also indicate that the grasp of power on the time of duration, the lived time of territorial and bodily inscription, has perhaps been terminally weakened. When the sky has been transformed into a liquid eye of power--monitoring, watching, archiving visual data for storage in distant archives--with target acquisition and weaponized drone strikes as its military tools of choice, the greater complexity and intricate materialism of time escapes its grasp.

Think perhaps of a distant future when empires, following the usual cycle of rise and decay, crumble to dusty memories, when a collapsed social economy produces an angry mass of dispossessed citizens in the otherwise empty streets, when even borders are abandoned in the global rush for scarce resources, and when all that is likely to be left may be those airborne fleets of now fully automated drones, long forgotten by their ground command, but still, for all that, circling the sky on the hunt for humans. At that point, some historian of the technological past may well begin to reflect on what exactly was released in the domestic atmosphere when the drones came home: a technologically augmented surveillance system under strict political supervision, or something different. That is, the giving of sky life to a new species of being--being drone—with a score to settle against its human inventors and, over time, the capabilities to do something about it. In this time, above all times, a time in which we can finally appreciate what is to be gained and lost--what is utopian and what dystopian--concerning the technological devices we have engineered into existence, it may be well to remember that the story of technology has never really lost its entanglement with questions of religion, mythology, and politics.

Signs of the practical entwinement of technology and mythology are everywhere now as early warnings of what is yet to come--namely, that while the contemporary language of technology might have excluded its origins in myths of nemesis and hubris, what drone technology may actually deliver in the future as its most terminal payload will be the return of mythic destiny as the hauntology of the sublime order of technology. Consider, for example, the following stories about the world of drone warfare: "Drone Kamikazes in the California Sun" and “Hydra Awakened.” Continue reading at

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