In an attempt to humanize the many hundreds of innocent people killed by U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, an artist collective has teamed up with human rights advocates and local villagers to turn the tables on the drone operatives themselves by “targeting” them with something they rarely see from their military control rooms half-way around the world: the face of one of their potentially innocent victims.
Tired of seeing the innocent men, women, and children of U.S. drone attacks termed “bug splats,” the French-based project is being done as a collaborative effort between artists and two human rights group, the UK-based Reprieve and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights in Pakistan, and was launched with the hashtag-friendly name, #NotaBugSplat.
From the Not A Bug Splat website: In military slang, Predator drone operators often refer to kills as ‘bug splats’, since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.
To challenge this insensitivity as well as raise awareness of civilian casualties, an artist collective installed a massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.
The installation is also designed to be captured by satellites in order to make it a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites.
The project is a collaboration of artists who made use of the French artist JR’s ‘Inside Out’ movement. Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights helped launch the effort which has been released with the hashtag #NotABugSplat
Children gather around the installation.
Ground view of the installation. via NotABugSplat
The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to FFR, lost both her parents and two young siblings in a drone attack.
The group of artists traveled inside KPK province and, with the assistance of highly enthusiastic locals, unrolled the poster amongst mud huts and farms. It is their hope that this will create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.