Bug Splats and other metaphors
A fascinating analysis which discusses the material power of medical and biological metaphors in practices of warfare and security. As a teacher of International Humanitarian Law to Australian Defence Force officer trainees, I can’t help but be disturbed by the way John Brennan describes the targets of UAV (“drone”) strikes in Pakistan.
A recent art installation is trying to disrupt the dehumanizing effects of drone technology and the metaphor of the “bugsplat” when talking about the “targets” of drone strikes. The images can be found at http://notabugsplat.com/
The installation is a huge picture of child that the drone operator can see and is meant to disrupt the pilot’s ability to dehumanize the victims of the strikes.
From the blog:
In military slang, Predator drone operators often refer to kills as ‘bug splats’, since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.
To challenge this insensitivity as well as raise awareness of civilian casualties, an artist collective installed a massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous…
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