"Blue Sky Days" Tomas van Houtryve, 2013 (Photographs taken in the U.S. resembling drone strike footage) :: pic.twitter.com/KUL9KTa7b7— Ian Alan Paul (@IanAlanPaul) April 16, 2014
Artists are taking up the task of opposing America's drone war. First, a collective of artists stretched a poster of a child's face across a field in Pakistan so as to give drone pilots pause before they press the FIRE button, earlier this month. Now it's Tomas van Houtryve with a 16-page spread in Harper's illustrating what Americans look like through the mechanical lens of a sky robot's camera. Wired reports:
To make the abstract real with his series Blue Sky Days, Van Houtryve mounted his DSLR on a quadcopter he bought online. He flew it over weddings, funerals, groups in prayer, and people exercising in public places—circumstances in which people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes abroad. “We’re told that the drone program saves American lives, and that civilian casualties are avoided with the surgical precision [of the technology]. The former claim is true, the latter is seriously in doubt,” says Van Houtryve.
The Obama administration doesn’t release a lot of details, so firm figures are hard to come by. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates unmanned aerial vehicles have killed between 2,296 and 3,718 people, as many as 957 of them civilians.
"The only two factors which tend to push the American public to question U.S. military campaigns,” Van Houtryve says, “Are the deaths of U.S. service men and woman, or media coverage of the horrors of war on innocent civilians. The drone program manages to quash both factors, greatly facilitating it’s continuation and expansion."