If U.S. citizens knew how it felt to be targeted by deadly flying robots, it might shape domestic attitudes toward the Obama administration’s drone program. Artist Tomas Van Houtryve is using video and photography to foster that discussion by putting average Americans under drone-like surveillance.
“The drone has become the preferred tool of the ‘War on Terror,’” says Van Houtryve. “We live in the most media-connected age ever, and yet the American public has no visual narrative of the drone war. This is a secret war, making it easier to push to the back of our minds or only think about in abstract terms.”
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 Blue Sky Days project was produced in partnership with Harper’s Magazine, with additional support from a Getty Images Grant and the Pulitzer Center.