2022/06/02 Essay: “The Algorithmic Apparatus of Neocolonialism: Counter-Operational Practices and the Future Of Aerial Surveillance”

Image from “Topologies of Air” (2021), courtesy of Shona Illingworth
“Human beings must learn anew to recognize the pattern of the earth from the perspective of the air.” —Harun Farocki, Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1988

What forms of aerial threat do communities across the globe endure today, and how do they differ from previous levels of exposure? If we consider the apparently unstoppable ascendancy of drone reconnaissance and satellite surveillance, then it is evident that we are undergoing an epoch-defining evolution in the deployment of aerial technologies. The multiple concerns raised by civilian, civil rights, humanitarian, and military agencies in relation to autonomous systems of warfare would suggest that such operations have likewise realigned the relationship between the material (physical, environmental, legal) and immaterial (psychological, ethical, and existential) impact of these technologies.

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