drones: 117 | kites: 128
1001 Drone Nights is a web based artistic interactive/investigative installation by Ronnie Karfiol. The project was initiated through the Web Residencies platform of Akademie Schloss Solitude & ZKM Museum and curated by Dani Ploeger.
Inspired by the war between semi-autonomous flying objects on the border between Gaza Strip and Israel. Back in 2018, Palestinians started flying kites armed with small explosives. Shortly after, the IDF has decided to fight the kites with drones, attempting to use the device in a basic manner – by using the drone’s facade to tear the kite up, or to simply drag it down to the ground.
However, the citizen vs. army battle rapidly transformed into a citizen vs. citizen battle, as Israelis living in the towns near Gaza took matters into their hands by using their own private drones with smartphone GPS in order to tackle the flying kites. This war trend, while continuing the incurring and unfortunate violent tensions, also created its own enclave within the war ecosystem – a unique battle with no humans physically involved, like a virtual war game. While each ‘game’ can still include a harming element (a semi-autonomous weapon may also carry an explosive), as both weapons start to fight, they mostly merely have to ‘dance’ until one falls off and surrenders.
Underlying within this aerial battlefield, is the maker ideology that is prevalent on both sides. Specifically, Palestinians thrive on the thriftiness of the kite’s technology by making most of the flown ones from wood scraps and plastic bags. While Israelis mostly make use of readily-available drone model, they also include added DIY assets like a 3D printed ‘string-catcher’ to more easily entangle a kite.
Moreover, as both the drone and the kite share a similar history in aerial photography, as kites were used in aerial photography back in the 1910’s. This also becomes a stark depiction of the endless cycle of technology. To quote Paul Virilio, it is also a Pure War, a war so embedded in everyday life it accelerates new weaponry technology.
This website hopes to bring to the surface our cultural tendency towards wanting to distance ourself from war by using technology, as well as the growing role of maker culture and even maker ideology in this ever-changing battlefield. While on the bright side, both the maker and gamer cultures allow for some leisure - they also hold within a darker side of unimaginable and untethered influence on individuals’ lives.
While this website does not conclude whether using technology, DIY and semi-autonomous weapons is preferred to other human forms of fighting - it does wish to prompt the user to ask himself or herself, what war in today’s digitalised, gamificated and privatised world actually means for humanity.
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Ronnie Karfiol, 2020