Poet Simon Armitage brings new perspectives to the Battle of the Somme by responding to the aerial images of the terrain that the battle scarred. Using the rich archive of photographic materials held at the Imperial War Museum in London as a visual stimulus, Armitage creates new narratives to connect the reader to the complexities and horrors of the First World War.
A time will certainly come in these rich vales
When a ploughman slicing open the soil
Will crunch through rusting spears, or strike
A headless iron helmet with his spade,
Or stare, wordless, at the harvest of raw bones
He exhumes from the earth’s unmarked grave.
– Extract from ‘Still’, Simon Armitage
Artist James Bridle raises awareness and visibility of drones as an object of control, surveillance and warfare. Drawing chalk outlines of the drone vehicle in public places to highlight that the operation of the drone within lived space, is counter to the premise that drones prompt sight and vision from a distance.
Tomas Van Houtryve
Artist, photographer and author Tomas Van Houtryve, responds to the US government’s programme using drones to carry out airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Critiquing the weaponisation of the photographic medium, his Blue Sky Days creates a visual record of drone war to draw attention to the changing nature of personal privacy, surveillance, and contemporary warfare.
Seven short stories about drones. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
1. Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Pity. A signature strike leveled the florist’s. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
2. Call me Ishmael. I was a young man of military age. I was immolated at my wedding. My parents are inconsolable. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
3. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather. A bomb whistled in. Blood on the walls. Fire from heaven. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
4. I am an invisible man. My name is unknown. My loves are a mystery. But an unmanned aerial vehicle from a secret location has come for me. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
5. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was killed by a Predator drone. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
6. Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His torso was found, not his head. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
7. Mother died today. The program saves American lives. — Teju Cole (@tejucole) January 14, 2013
Writer Teju Cole published ‘Seven Short Stories About Drones’ via Twitter. Exploring the materiality of drone warfare through a fictional prompt, the evolving short stories provide a concise commentary on the US government’s drone programme.