The way the military kills many people today is increasingly distant and mechanically controlled. It involves finding a target on a map, linking it to intelligence, and sending in a drone that executes the order by remote control. It’s a long way from traditional arm-to-arm conflict.
Jonathan Fletcher Moore’s “artificial killing machine” represents some of this. His art installation suspends dozens of toy cap guns that fire, as if on command, with every real-world drone death. The exhibit is set off as new deaths are recorded in a public database on U.S. military drone strikes.
Moore attaches little motors to each gun using acrylic mounts, then powers them from a motor controller. He uses a Raspberry Pi computer to search the database and activate the motor control electronics.
As well as setting off the guns, the information is also itself recorded and then printed out, like a shopping list receipt. “When individuals are represented purely as statistical data, they are stripped of their humanity and our connection to them is severed. Through the act of play and the force of imagination, this project aims to reconnect that which has been lost,” Moore says, at his website.
Watching the guns fire repeatedly (see video) is certainly unsettling, forcing us to remember that drone strikes are happening all the time these days.