COLL.EO, Remote Play, video montage, 2013
Each layout is comprised of one diecast RQ-1 Predator drone replica produced by Maisto (as part of their “Fresh Metal Tailwinds” series) or one diecast replica of a Mattel Matchbox SB94 Drone United Alliance (as part of the “Sky Busters Missions Series”), synthetic grass, synthetic snow, plastered rock, one digital image, cropped and manipulated, from Battlefield 3 (EA, 2010), one metallic pole, one mp3 player, one plastic arcade “PUSH to EJECT” button, and one set of headphones.
“Prehistoric art made use of certain fixed notations in the service of magical practice. In some cases, these notations probably comprised the actual performing of magical acts (the carving of an ancestral figure is itself such an act), in others, they gave instructions for such procedures (the ancestral figure demonstrates a ritual posture), and in still others, they provided objects for magical contemplation (contemplation of an ancestral figure strengthens the occult powers of the beholder). The subjects for these notations were humans and their environment, which were depicted according to the requirements of a society whose technology existed only in fusion with the ritual. Compared to that of the machine age, of course, this technology was underdeveloped. But from a dialectical standpoints, the disparity is unimportant. The achievement of the first technology might be said to culminate in human sacrifice: those of the second in the remote controlled aircraft which need no human crew. The results of the first technology are valid once and for all (it deals with irreparable lapse or sacrificial death, which holds good for eternity). The results of the second are wholly provisional (it operates by means of experiments and endless varied test procedures).The origin of the second technology lies at the point where, by an unconscious ruse, human beings first began to distance themselves from nature. It lies, in other words, in play.”
(Walter Benjamin, 1936)
This passage is taken from the second version of Walter Benjamin’s essay “Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit” (“The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility”), first published in Volume 7 of Gesammelte Schriften (1989) and originally composed in Paris in the autumn of 1935. The essay is featured in Walter Benjamin. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, edited by Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty, and Thomas Y. Levin and published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press in 2008. The quoted passage can be found on page 26.
“[A] Drone is the physical avatar of the virtual presence of a real person.”
(Lev Grossman, TIME, February 11, 2013)
Each layout features a distinct soundtrack: a re-enactment of the Q&A section between four “real” drone pilots and the users of Reddit on January 30, 2013. Titled “We are Predator UAV Pilot/Operators currently in Afghanistan. AMAA!” (link), the original conversation consists of 539 comments and it was featured in the “IAmA” section of the website. Coll.eo selected 72 questions and answers and used a text-to-voice program to convert them into speech. The complete voice-over is approximately 40 minutes long. The soundtrack of each layout is approximately 10 minute long. The 72 questions and answers were not edited although some acronyms, e.g. UAV were spelled out (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Founded in San Francisco in 2005, Reddit is a popular social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of either a link or a text (“self”) post. According to Reddit’s administrators, “AmAs” should be about “Something uncommon that plays a central role in [one’s] life” or “A truly interesting and unique event”. All the contributors are required to provide proof so that the moderators can verify their identity and legitimacy. The verification process remains confidential. According to Google Doubleclick Ad Planner's estimate, the median U.S. Reddit user is male (72%), 25–34 years of age, and has a college education (March 2012).
COLL.EO is Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti
San Francisco March 19, 2013