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Honey, The Smartphone Ate the Kids: Comic yet chilling illustrations of our social media world

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Well, we knew this was going to happen. We were warned often enough but did we listen? Did we heed the warning given out in episodes of The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, innumerable B-movies and books from H. G. Wells to Stephen King? No, we thought we knew better. We were having way too much fun to even think about what we may be mortgaging for getting all those likes on Facebook and all those followers on Instagram and Twitter. We were only in it for the LOLz.

Then one day, our life’s all used up and we’re part of the machine. It’s no fun anymore but still we can’t help checking our feed, tweeting our food and liking every fucking picture of a grumpy-looking cat. WE are the pod people sci-fi warned us about! Like OMG!

Artist Kristian Jones produces neat illustrations of children and families whose lives have been taken over by the technology they use. His figures look like the characters once found in children’s stories who are now transported to a strange, surreal science-fiction land where technology snoops and insidiously steals away their very life force.

Jones is a self-taught artist based in Birmingham, England. His work which has been featured in galleries, magazines, posters and a clothing range “depicts our relationship with the modern world”:

...in a surreal and twisted form to highlight the problems with modern day living, preying on the innocence of childhood imagination, surreal worlds and fictional creatures.

Jones’ illustrations are funny and chilling. We recognize his point but know the same was once said about television and radio, or cinema and leisure time—where the Devil was always making work for idle hands. Technology is neither good nor bad—it’s all about us and how we use it. Jones is wise to this too and has in one picture Old Nick leading a group of idle carefree kids on a merry dance to Hell, while in another a boy peers into his tablet just like Narcissus who was smitten with his own reflection.

He is also part of the Brothers of the Stripe collective of illustrators and graphic designers. More of Kristian Jones’ work can be seen and purchased here.
 
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More of Kristian Jones’ work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘In Drones We Trust,’ a grassroots protest of the U.S. military’s use of drones
12.08.2014
01:44 pm

Topics:
Activism
Art
Economy

Tags:
money
drones


 
Joseph DeLappe is not your ordinary artist. He’s a professor of art at the University of Nevada, and some have called him the first “gamer artist.” In October 18, 2002, with the TV show Friends still on the air, he and five gamer friends staged a recreation of “The One Where No One Proposes,” the premiere episode of Season 9, in the medium of a Quake III Arena game server (that is, a massively multiplayer environment where hundreds of players compete in the same arena). The project was called “Quake/Friends.” Each character in the show was given an avatar in the violent shoot-‘em-up, and the players used the in-game messaging system to render the episode’s dialogue: “Our performers functioned as passive, neutral visitors to the game—we were constantly killed and reincarnated to continue the performance. The piece was presented a second time in 2003 using six projected points of view, multiple audio channels and microphones for each performer.” The episode they were reenacting was not quite a month old at the time of the first performance. It was kind of a big deal at the time—the New York Times gave the second performance of the piece a writeup with the title “Take That, Monica! Kapow, Chandler!

More recently, DeLappe’s work has shown a more explicitly political flavor. From 2006 to 2011, DeLappe undertook the impressively subversive “Dead in Iraq” project, which involved logging on to the U.S. Army recruiting game “America’s Army” with the username dead-in-iraq and typing in the names of all 4,484 (at that time) service persons who had died to date in Iraq. In 2013 DeLappe commenced the “Cowardly Drone” project, which was essentially an elaborate effort to fuck with Google Image search results. He would take images of e.g. MQ9 Reaper Drones and Photoshop the word “COWARDLY” on the vehicle’s side in large bold letters, then re-upload the images with unprepossessing titles like “predator drone” in the hopes that some of his images would come up as hits in Google Search. The images are intended as “a subtle intervention into the media stream of US military power.”

DeLappe’s newest idea, “In Drones We Trust,” is combining a critique of the U.S. military’s use of drones with the defacement of U.S. currency. He noticed that all U.S. bills in wide circulation (except for the $1 bill) feature an etching of an august edifice connected with the U.S. government on its reverse side. (The $2 has a reproduction of Joseph Trumbull’s painting The Declaration of Independence.) In each case the building comes with an entirely featureless, placid sky, so DeLappe figured, why not add a menacing image of a drone to them? “It seems appropriate,” writes DeLappe, “considering our current use of drones in foreign skies, to symbolically bring them home to fly over our most notable patriotic structures.” He has created a couple hundred rubber stamps with the drone image and you can get one for yourself for a nominal price that simple covers the price of postage ($3 for domestic orders). I ordered one, and I can’t wait to ... er, use it on non-currency bits of paper! (Actually, if I’m reading this right, it’s not illegal to draw on or add markings to U.S. paper currency.)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
No video of “In Drones We Trust” that I could find, but here’s a look at “Quake/Friends”:
 

 
via Internet Magic.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Dance routine with drones is beautiful and technically impressive
05.22.2014
11:03 am

Topics:
Dance
Science/Tech

Tags:
dance
drones


 
As the most recent advancement in push-button warfare, it can be difficult to think of drones as anything more than flying child-murdering combat robots. This Tokyo performance by Japanese dance troupe Eleven Play manages to utilize drone technology for art and beauty, while simultaneously depicting all of its potential insidiousness. 

At first the dancers interact cautiously and experimentally with the drones, then the machines become more active and more threatening. With no control over the increasingly volatile technology, the women flee the stage in fear. In the end, the only ones left dancing are the drones themselves. It’s beautiful and dramatic and there’s a trippy light display and flying robots—what more could you want?
 

 
Via psfk

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The truth about Obama’s indiscriminate and bloody drone war

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Earlier this year, investigative journalist Greg Palast wrote an excellent article on the documentary Dirty Wars , which exposed the horrific and illegal use of American drones to kill more than 17,000 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The article was titled “The Drone Ranger: Obama’s Dirty War” and was written for Vice. Palast opened the piece by explaining how:

Every Tuesday, President Obama personally checks off the names of people he wants killed. George Bush, a bit more squeamish than Obama, never did that; but Mr. Obama felt those decisions were the president’s responsibility: he want[s] to keep his own finger on the trigger,” according to one report.  A tidy, scheduled man, the President only picks his victims once a week, now called “Terror Tuesday.”

Palast relates how amongst the many strikes ordered by Obama, there was one that killed Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, a sixteen-year-old “American kid”.

On October 14, 2011, in Shabwah province, Yemen, Abdul, went out with his cousins and friends for a good old US-style barbecue, when Obama’s drone fired a rocket, blowing the teenager to pieces.  Or I should say “piece.”  All that was left of Abdul was a piece of skull with long curly hair that allowed his relatives to identify this hunk of his head by his US-type haircut.

Obama didn’t order the killings (Abdul’s friends and cousins died too) as a random act of crazy.  No-Drama Obama doesn’t believe in random. Abdul’s problem was that his father was Anwar al-Awlaki.  Obama killed Abdul’s dad as well.  Daddy al-Awlaki, an American imam who voted for George Bush, had gone over to the side of the bad guys, and after leaving the USA, broadcast pro-terrorism radio reports from Arabia.

The thing was, this drone attack occured “two weeks after and hundreds of miles away from the site where rockets killed his father.” Obama’s “minions” then attempted to cover-up what had happened. Palast’s article can be read here.

Palast may have shocked those who think of President Obama as some kind of liberal “good guy”—as distinct from George Bush, apparently—and the use of drones as a necessary tool in the “war against terrorism.” But put it this way, if drones were used against America by a foreign power, as America uses them on Pakistan or Afghanistan, how long would it take Obama and co to declare such indiscriminate slaughter was an act of war?

Heather Linebaugh served in the United Stated Air Force from 2009 until March 2012, where she worked in intelligence as an imagery analyst and geo-spatial analyst for the drone program during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Linebaugh has written an article about the use of drones for the Guardian, titled “I worked the US drone program. The public should know what really goes on.” It’s an “Edward Snowden” moment, and which I recommend you read.

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Or even more pointedly: “How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?”

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.

The US and British militaries insist claim that this is an expert program, but it’s curious that they feel the need to deliver faulty information, few or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs. These specific incidents are not isolated, and the civilian casualty rate has not changed, despite what our defense representatives might like to tell us.

What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?” I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.

As Linebaugh concludes:

The UAVs in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious threat to the sanctity of human life – at home and abroad – will continue.

Read the full article here.

Below Vice podcast featuring Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for “The Nation,” whose work covering America’s special operations [forces] and targeted killings in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia is chronicled in the documentary, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.
 

 
Via the Guardian

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
FBI Director acknowledges that surveillance drones have been used against US citizens
06.21.2013
12:49 pm

Topics:
Current Events
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
FBI
drones

Droney the drone
Droney the Drone, from This Modern World
 
We already know drones are great for killing people (even small, difficult to hit people), but they can be used for so much more—and not just against our underage enemies abroad!

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned FBI Director Robert Mueller on the use of drones for surveillance of US citizens. Mueller reassured the Senator that, yes, we do use robot spies, but “very seldom.” He also said that the FBI, itself, is drafting protocol to ensure privacy, saying, “I will tell you that our footprint is very small. We have very few and of limited use, and we’re exploring not only the use, but also the necessary guidelines for that use.”

Well, my concerns are completely alleviated, how about yours?

Of course, this revelation (which many have already been suspecting for some time) has largely fallen under the radar. (See what I did, there?)
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment