Drones
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Published: April 11, 2013
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Foreword


by techgnotic




Choose any media or medium and there is no question that Drones have become the white hot center of debate for a multitude of deeply consequential concerns for the entire Earth Sphere. No matter the digital end point or theatre of conversation, whether it be politics, war, privacy, pop culture, or the rise of machines – Drones or UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) are the current catalyst du jour in any number of flashpoint discussions. From the front page headlines of news outlets around the world, to op-ed pages debating national security vs. non-juridical “justice,” to the big budget sci-fi film “Oblivion” with a main protagonist being a lonely drone repairman toiling away on a scorched earth, there is no getting away from the conversation.




Even more interesting is the tone of inevitability of outcome. Core discussion seems to focus on a coming drone-filled sky and how we might govern our selves accordingly as this fact becomes a reality. It would seem that we have surrendered to the “law” that if something is possible in its technology, it will inexorably come into being and have to be dealt with. If we can build it, we will, and our finger will itch to find a reason for pulling the trigger. Is this the dark side of human creativity and inquisitiveness that will ultimately one day spell our doom or the first signs of a coming technological Utopia.






As always, concerned artists around the world are responding, reflecting and creating. In NYC Adam Harvey has turned the very core idea of fashion on it’s head. His art project is not about being seen and noticed but about remaining unseen as there will now be no way to be unseen in this brave new climate of surveillance.





The artists of DeviantArt have similarly been creating artwork of incredible beauty and message.


For a deeper examination of the intersection of future shock military terror and artistic response, istickboy takes us on a journey through an art centered perspective on the subject. Jason Boog is not only a talented writer of finely crafted sentences, but he also brings a true journalist’s skills in research, analysis and balanced presentation to the topics he covers. His future contributions to depthRADIUS will no doubt prove as edifying and thought-provoking as they will be entertaining. Welcome, Jason.







Drones

by istickboy@



Near the end of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the video game player must rescue the President while a swarm of unmanned aircraft demolish Los Angeles. Players navigate a landscape of collapsed skyscrapers and burning cars, the air thick with ash and yellow smoke. Remote controlled helicopters, airplanes and tanks ambush the player, rogue drones blasting the city to pieces.




The game concludes in 2025 with this nightmare scenario: terrorists have seized control of the entire United States drone fleet. The game has spawned DeviantArt collections and fan art as players create wallpaper stills, posters and scenes from the game.


Unmanned airplanes and other robotic fighting machines will obsess popular culture for years to come, and DeviantArt has already become a hub for drone art. Artists have tagged more than 19,000 posts with the word "drones” inventing everything from robots with laser cannons to My Little Pony drone horses to alien machinery to sleek unmanned airplanes to gorgeous robot blimps mining gas on distant stars.








Unmanned






Vehicle









Aerial







According to Navy historians, drones first took flight in 1937, as the military tested remote controlled airplanes for research and missions. Just like drone bees under the command of the Queen, these early Navy drones were used for dangerous missions, target practice and other disposable tasks.


The humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch recently published a report about drone warfare around the globe. According to the study, US Department of Defense has invested about $6 billion every year into “the research and development, procurement, operations, and maintenance of unmanned systems for war.” In May 2010, U.S. drones surpassed one million flight hours and a short time later, in November 2010, achieved one million combat hours.






Winged violence from the sky is not a new artistic theme.


John James Audubon









The great 19th Century artist and naturalist dedicated much of his career to sketching birds in beautiful and violent moments. You can download free copies of his illustrated journals at Project Gutenberg. In his journal, he described the magnificent killing power of birds of prey.


He described the violence of a black-backed gull hunting in a rainstorm:





The rain is driven in sheets which seem scarcely to fall on sea or land; I can hardly call it rain, it is rather a mass of water, so thick that all objects at any distance from us are lost to sight every three or four minutes, and the waters comb up and beat about us in our rock-bound harbor as a newly caged bird does against its imprisoning walls. The Great Black-backed Gull alone is seen floating through the storm, screaming loudly and mournfully as it seeks its prey; not another bird is to be seen abroad”





In the 20th Century, aviation art captured airplanes with the same gorgeous detail that Audubon brought to real birds. The movement took flight during World War II as airplanes brought mass destruction to the prosecution of war. Artists romanticized the deadly beauty of military machinery, painting a species of bird created by mankind.










In 1963,


Roy Lichtenstein painted "Whaam" as an ironic part of this tradition.



In the five-foot tall panels, a comic book airplane blasts another fighter jet, creating a fiery inferno that engulfs half the painting with a comic explosion. The painting reproduced an image from a 1962 DC comic book, “All American Men of War.” Painting that image on an enormous canvas, Lichtenstein focused on the terrible beauty of an exploding aircraft.








An explosion of science fiction in the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s introduced rocket ships. There is a direct line to Star Trek and Star Wars through Blade Runner from Sputnik, the first unmanned satellite in space launched in 1957 by the Soviet Union. The real thing and the imagined blend together.







From Halo to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, drones have always played...


A Role in Video Games




The Starcraft series featured horrific Zerg drones, a combination of a wasp, monster and killer alien. In the Halo franchise, insect-like Yanme'e aliens are called drones. They fly and fight in hive formations, rallying around a queen like earthbound insects.






Just like these video game creatures, our real life drones were designed by watching nature. Robotic engineers at Boston Dynamics are creating the next generation of drones that will work on the ground for the military. These creatures all mimic real animals, strange works created by engineers --unnaturalists, if you will.



















Anime has also explored drone warfare, especially the mecha anime genre that “revolves around the use of piloted robotic armors in battle.” These colorful stories show epic battles between enormous fighting machines.




Inspired by mecha anime, DeviantArt artist izo84 has been developing a “Drone Army” video game concept for many years, posting some of his work on the site. He also cited professional devinatART members like ukitakumuki, Avitus12, KaranaK and flaketom as inspirations.


izo84 feels conflicted about his work:



I do not feel good about designing war machines. But I think as long as what I envisioned is pure fiction, I can continue working without remorse. On the other hand, I can see how fast the real development of unmanned war machines changed, and I have concerns.”








Inspired by press accounts of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, artist turningaway posted “War as a Video Game” on DeviantArt. The political painting shows what a drone attack feels like for innocent civilians on the ground and reminds us of the consequences of these unmanned attacks.


Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was not created as science fiction. An Australian gaming site AusGamer interviewed Treyarch studio co-founder Mark Lamia who worked on the game. The founder explained the realistic art design behind the drone attacks: “We wanted to make sure that this is Call of Duty, it can’t be too sci-fi, it’s gotta feel like this is plausible. It’s part of the DNA of Black Ops where we set up these plausible scenarios and then we have our fiction going through it and our story… the flipside of major advances in robotics and technology is that sort of — on the flipside — is the dependencies on that and things that might be happening in cyber-warfare in the future. Things that used to be the domain of great science-fiction books is no longer, it’s reality; it’s happening; starting to play out in the headlines today, but certainly in the coming decade.”






While developing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the video game designers and artists consulted with P.W. Singer, the war scholar who wrote the most important book about drone warfare, Wired for War.  Singer described why video game players are highly valued as drone pilots: “Having spent their youth online gaming, sipping Red Bull, and talking on their cell phones all at once, young drone pilots come to the unit with an ease at multitasking already wired into their DNA.”


Artists are training warriors.











Questions


For the Reader





1

Which do you think came first: the real drones or the artistic interpretations of drones?




2

DaVinci drew sketches of weapons and war machines as well as producing the most emotionally restrained and expressive portrait of a woman in the Mona Lisa. Is a sketch of a drone emotionally connected or is just an illustration of future shock?




3

There are all kinds of camera drones used by the military, by engineering companies to inspect pipelines, for example, and by film companies for all kinds of effects. What would be an art drone? Maybe a flying machine trailing colors, a guided laser obliterating ugliness or a device for laying down graffiti on inaccessible surfaces— do you have an idea for an art drone’s function or mission?






4

In Singer’s book, drone squadron commander Gary Fabricius talks about the lives of drone pilots: “You are going to war for twelve hours, shooting weapons at targets, directing kills on enemy combatants, and then you get in the car, drive home, and within twenty minutes you are sitting at the dinner table talking to your kids about their homework.” Is this really any different than spending a day in the studio drawing a comic or animations or illustrations of mass mayhem and destruction?




5

Do you think the proliferation of drones all over the world somehow brings us closer to a new world order or one world government?









Comments1564
anonymous's avatar
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Neytirislover51's avatar
Neytirislover51Hobbyist Photographer
I have ideas for some pretty deadly weaponized drones but... If they fell into the wrong hands, I'd never forgive myself

.
CrazyCanuck96's avatar
CrazyCanuck96Hobbyist General Artist
There's a lot of interconnection between science, art and warfare and it would be hard to determine which came first, I think it's kind of chicken and egg question really.

I think an art drone's purpose would be similar to other machinery's purposes, to allow one to do something that they couldn't manage to do with their bare hands, whether it be reaching an impossible location, creating images to capture by photography, or even allowing one to paint a surface from a distance.

I think the drone operator is very different from yet at the same time very similar to an artist. A drone pilot, like any other soldier is subject to orders. They have a mission, given to them by someone else, to fulfill. However an artist is left to follow their creative whims. Now on the other hand, a drone pilot is a step apart from other soldiers as they will never truly understand combat, since even if the drone is shot down they'll survive, they won't experience any physical effects and they won't see the wreckage with their own eyes. Even a fighter pilot's life is on the line in the battlefield, because for him, no matter how slim it is, their is still the chance he could be killed. A pilot is also akin to an artist, in that they will likely never experience a combat situation first hand, they won't know what it's like to drive the body until there's no drive left, and then keep pushing. Even a reservist who gets deployed, will know how that feels.

I suppose a rise in deployment of drones over soldiers would eventually cause nations capable of producing them to cease warring with each other, as neither side will be able to create casualties and thus force the other into submission. However peace through fear of war doesn't exactly work well, as we've seen globally since the advent of nuclear warfare, and eventually nations would find ways around the issue of being unable to harm each other directly.
godsofchaos's avatar
godsofchaosHobbyist Traditional Artist
I actually gave a speech at college a few years back about the future of drone warfare. Basically Drone warfare is going to happen in US anyways because the immense public pressure since Vietnam that large loss of life is simply unacceptable. The solution is to send a toaster out to do the fight so that way the media cant use lose of life to pull out.  The media reaction to Iraq, Vietnam and other wars has forced the US military to find a solution and drones are their answer.

I think artists highly influence the future with their visions. For example watch Aliens several projects has sprung up from that movie alone. Metal storm = drone turrets, US military has been trying to achieve functional ceaseless weapons like the pulse rifles  and the drop ships could be remote controlled. People forget that scientists are people too and where artist might see something that peaks there interest from a sci fi movie and try to create a work similar to it  a scientist will go out and try to build it for real. RADAR for example birthed by a scientist trying to make death rays from war of the worlds.

Don't really get the mona lisa being a drone question.

I image a artist drone could only exist if robots ever reach sentience. If they do I would be curious to the art they would create. Until then I don't think drones can really play a role in art as you need ambition and vision to create art. Something current robots do not have.
psymonster1974's avatar
Drones certainly excite the public interest in a way that cruder weapons, like the roadside bomb, do not, even though the latter causes many more casualties. Perhaps because of their hi tech nature or the fact there is usually associated nose cam video to view, compared to the relative invisibility of roadside bombs. Another reason may be their reach. If you look back in time to the Papal ban on crossbows in intra-European warfare, was it because being shot with a crossbow was more horrific than being shot with a longbow or slashed with a sword, or was it because their range and penetrating power threatened the safety of the armoured knights who invested a lot of time and money in their protection. Similarly drones can reach into areas and loiter for targets who would dearly like to be conducting their fight in another place, often across a national border, then retreat to a safe haven. The use of drones frustrates that strategy. Their use certainly raises questions, as all fighting should, but recent genocides have been conducted with nothing more than machetes, so should the weapon itself be feared more than any other.
leniere309's avatar
It is said that a robot will never harm a human because of the three laws of robotics, I think it was Issac Asimov who came up with the idea for these laws, however some one needs to program them into the robots in the first place, so if a human some day decides not to insert this particular program then these laws don't apply and  this could be done without any one else knowing.

As far as radio controlled weapons are concerned take a look at the Robin Williams film 'TOYS', That idea is scary.
magu18's avatar
magu18 Digital Artist
I think people are probably either trying to get more comfortable with the rule of the overlords because they feel powerless ("identifying with your captors"), or trying to wake others up to the presence of the rule of the overlords because they don't feel powerless. 
joeyalizio's avatar
joeyalizioHobbyist Photographer
Okay Then. "VEHICLES."
Would Probably Be
The Word You Were Looking For.
Drones. B.S.
InvaderBloodnut's avatar
 i hate drones. You would too if you had to do all the research I did on them. World issues class really opened my eyes to the horrors we have created. 
Look at the graphic novels that are created. If we can make an unmanned air craft real, what is to say the part where it turns on us is impossible?
Spanielted's avatar
Art tends to precede technology. Camera drones are used by wildlife photographers, if the technology is there and can be used by the military, then the military will use it.  What concerns me is psycho-propaganda.  News photographers in Middle Eastern war zones always manage to find a poor traumatised child with blonde curly hair.  How many blonde curly haired Arab kids do you suppose there are.  Enough of using the C.... word to justify barbarity.
DragonGirl1314's avatar
DragonGirl1314Hobbyist General Artist
Pretty cool I'm not all that into technology so um yeah I like it but yeah I'm more of a fanticey person I'll like it though
Menarch's avatar
This are similar (fan over cabin)Waaaah!  to the Heinkel was build in wood! and piloting by very very young germans who lost their lives over a primitive reactor of this brave days.
firefly00's avatar

An interesting piece; it is however odd to see anime (and manga) which explicitly feature '_piloted_ robotic armors' (emphasis mine) cited as examples of explorations of drone warfare.  True, some of these do have remotely-operated support units (Macross II's VF-2SS, for instance, is sometimes seen accompanied by small units known as SABs (Supplementary Attack Bits; informally known as 'squires')) and some blur the line a bit (the small mechs available in the upcoming game Titanfall can be piloted, or act as semi-autonomous support), but it is for the most part a tenuous linkage.


To support LoicShor's point, I would like to point out (probably again, among the thousand-plus comments I suspect it's come up at least once before) this NY Times article about combat drone operations:


www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/us/…


The perception that combat drone operations are like playing a videogame is not only wrong, but does a disservice to not only the operators but, as has been pointed out, the real people affected by their sorties.

WULF-1045's avatar
New world order has it
TinyIconMaker's avatar
Well, it seems like the world will soon be destroyed, and whats left, will be taken over by robot drones and cyborgs.
Wrytter's avatar
1.Artistic images came first and the real horror of the devices came later.
2. I feel an emotional connection there, one that does shock the mind and soul as what the device is capable of doing. It's a flying horror.
3. Art drones would be used for the creation of artistic beauty spread by them, be it in the form of grafitti, or coloring a landscape, photgraphing cities, towns villages, or could be used to as a mass producer if ideas for the betterment of humanity.
4. Very little difference. The 12 hours spent doing the items in a studio is akin to doing it in reality as your mind is focused on the end result of a session created from start to finish and all the carnage in between the only difference is that one is static the other is not.
5. It brings us closer to an " Orwellian " world indeed yes. With the proliferation of drones and the political will of those in control there is no limit to what will and can be done. Public opinion in this day and age means precious little to those in real control of things and ideals. They pay lip service to the public and that's pretty much the template for the next 50 or so years.
mykeeCaparas's avatar
mykeeCaparasHobbyist Digital Artist
superb artwork collections!
LoicShor's avatar
In response to Q4 (is drone pilot similar to a studio job where war/violence/desolation is reccurent):

Drones pilots are prone to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, like fighters in the field. I am no expert, but PTSD is a really serious condition that can include unrrest, paranoïa, violent behaviour, panick attacks. It is long and hard to recover from it. I think that alone shows that piloting a drone os REALLY DIFFERENT from picturing war.
Now I will try to propose an explanation.

Wether you think some experience is real really changes your response to it. I think you could play using a perfect simulation of a battelfield and the regular environment of a drone pilot and be allright as long as you KNOW it is a simulation. What would happen if after that you were told that they were a mistake, and that you destroyed a real, say, truck, with real people in it?
Drone pilots are not physically on the battelfield, but they spy or destroy real facilities, they kill real people, and real fellow soldiers are depending on them. So they do fight battles and wars.

The perception of time is also nowhere near what you may experience as an artist (or player). You cannot decide when to stop to take a leak or to think to the next move. More importantly, if a pilot does something wrong, they have no earaser nor undo, and they hardly have a second chance to make it better. So once again, they are bond to causality and non-reversibility of time. Of course, we all are, but in artistic creation, it is almost always possible to go a few steps back or try again.

Last important difference: the freedom in creation. If an artist decided to draw a battelfield, he may just decide to add a second sun in the sky or an orc in the picture, or that this rock here should be partly transparent. The only limits are what he accepts to do and what he can technically do. He is a god in his universe. That is clearly not the case for a drone pilot.


One possible response to Q3 (What would be an "art drone"):

In the quest of beauty project.

If a drone has a machine learning algorythm, it could record sounds and/or images, and with some human feedback, learn where and how to get aestetically or poetically interesting captures.

That could be an interesting art-and-science project...
panjok2's avatar
  I wonder, is that bug hovering in the air and seemingly looking at me in the garden a drone or have I lost my mind? Am I alone in my house or has one flown in while I had the door open, I wonder? 
fluffgirl1941's avatar
totally against drone ..and war of the machine...it kills REAL peoples ..war by remote
control ...doesn't solve any problems..I think it was first a cartoon.. as man imagine a
world were his enemies are killed and no soldiers need to go to war.. they than go to the extreme and the machine takes over..
very entertaining for cartoon..and cinema...in reality if countries started to send drone to each other ..life would be unbearable....
uki--uki's avatar
Disgusted Drone Pilot Quits Air Force

'The international community is outraged over the careless devastation and lack of accountability of the U.S.’s drone program. At least part of this uproar results from the institutionalized mystery surrounding these flying killing machines. However, one former member of the U.S. military knows the drone program all too well… and he’s harshly critical of it, too.'

Read more: [link]
Althyra-Nex's avatar
Althyra-NexHobbyist Digital Artist
Is this a contest or... what? Because if this is, that would be cool.
uki--uki's avatar
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." Mahatma Gandhi
KurtMetz's avatar
KurtMetzProfessional Digital Artist
Just because we can do a thing, does not mean we should that thing.
This will go badly. They will bring be fear, pain, loss and suffering.
We will be told that we are safe but not from who. yesterdays concerned citizen is now considered a domestic terror threat. funny how things turn over time. How words change?
comply conform or be cast out. They know where you are. They can see you.
Power corrupts, we know this. Idiocy prevails, we pay to have it cabled or beamed into our homes. and evil plots through pharmacuticaully induced psychosis. In the wrong hands?
This will go badly.
.
Built for the future. The right tools for the right time. In the right hands?
This will go badly.
anonymous's avatar
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