The Freestone Drone
2013 | 00:12:55 | United Kingdom | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video
Collection: Single Titles
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — drones — have become an everyday feature of contemporary military activity, replacing humans in reconnaissance flights, small-scale combat missions and covert operations. The U.S. Army operates some ten thousands UAVs — a six-fold increase during Obama's term — deploying them over locations like Pakistan and Yemen.
George Barber's The Freestone Drone follows a mission from the point of view of the machine. The drone's camera surveys cityscapes, encounters individuals, reports, and in flight becomes aware of its own utility and destiny. Drone operators routinely study the washing to learn about their targets — it is foretold that the Freestone Drone is to die entangled in a clothes line.
The video combines found and made footage to produce an uneasy, seductive montage, anchored on the drone's private thoughts. Barber brings together war, love, life, death, and sends the drone over not only Waziristan, but also to New York and a London suburb. The drone then travels through time, projecting images of the past and possible futures.
While narrative unraveled on screen resists easy categorization, the artist draws the viewer to empathize with the antagonist. Engendered with human consciousness and independence, the drone is a poet who disobeys orders and does his own thing, a child within a machine.
In the legacy of Godard and Marker, The Freestone Drone proposes the meeting place of poetry and philosophy as a site to consider contemporary ethical and political concerns. Ultimately, Barber's work underlines the fact that technologies, and in particular modes of warfare, are symptomatic of the way we understand ourselves at our moment in history. Much now done in our name is at odds with democratic tradition: hidden, inhuman and robotic.
Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.
Exhibitions + Festivals
Athens Internatinoal Film/Video Festival, Athens, OH, 2014
Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Netherlands, 2014
Art Brussels, Brussels, Belgium - 2013
Art International Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey - 2013
Drone: The Automated Image - Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Cinémathèque québécoise, Montréal, Canada - 2013