Past SITUATION

SITUATION #19: Ruben Pater, Drone Survival Guide, 2013

09.–27.09.2015

Fotomuseum Winterthur

Drone Survival Guide, 2013 © Ruben Pater

Ruben Pater’s Drone Survival Guide, now available in over 30 languages, provides a means of identifying the flying machines that are increasingly placing populations under forms of lethal surveillance. A modern version of the wartime aircraft recognition guide, we are presented with an array of drone silhouettes with both surveillance and attack functions. Pater’s Guide also provides advice about how to hide from drones and how to hack into their control systems. Designed from the point of view of avoidance or resistance, its cartographic form is itself suggestive. Contemporary counter-insurgency doctrine includes the construction of so-called life cartographies, using surveillance of all kinds to construct patterns of activity that might help predict behaviour.

Little used until 10 years ago, the aerial drone is transforming modern warfare and surveillance. The number of drone attacks continues to climb – according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism there were 32 U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan during August 2015 alone. A recent prediction by the Federal Aviation Administration that there would be 30,000 drones flying over American soil by 2030 caused so much alarm it was forced to scale back its estimates. And drone technology is advancing rapidly, with a miniature drone, known as the Cicada, already a reality. It may not be long until mini-drones enter buildings practically unobserved, with either surveillance or kill functions.

Conceived ironically, Pater’s Drone Survival Guide is destined soon to be outmoded. Its implication is that there may well come a time when all of us are forced to live our lives in a state of permanent, near-invisible aerial surveillance.

The Drone Survival Guide is available in the Fotomuseum shop for 10 CHF.


More by Ruben Pater: dronesurvivalguide.org

More from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones

Cluster: Seeing machines