Departing from the recent drone art that plays into to the collective imagination rather than challenge it, Under the Last Sky brings the spectator into contact with the unseen technology that enables drone operations. Artists Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky have re-appropriated a series of components–electrical wafers, complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors, active pixel sensors– which ordinarily collect and convey information within the closed loop of the drone-operator interface. The components, which are etched with images of the sky over the locations of U.S. drone strikes, now serve to convey a new political and aesthetic set of data. The camera is turned inward on the drone. In doing so, Flanders and Sawatzky seek to engage the public in a new, expansive conversation about surveillance, drones and image-making. By using age-old photolithographic techniques, the duo have placed the drone within the history of photography; while many recognize that the drone embodies the logic of the progress of warfare, the show focuses on the significance of the drone as a radical new photographic technology, one that complicates notions as photography as a medium for the non-nefarious conveyance of information.
Elle Flanders is the founder of Public Studio. Her work has appeared at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Toronto International FIlm Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. Flanders teaches at York University, where she is pursuing a PhD in Studio Arts.
Tamira Sawatzky is an artist and architect. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the Art Gallery at York University and Flux Factory in New York. Her recent artwork includes Kino Pravda 3G What Isn’t There and Road Movie.
(Photos: Public Studio)