Artificial Killing Machine, billing the drone strikes


Artificial Killing Machine is an artwork by Jonathan Fletcher Moore and Fabio Pipar. It enumerates and transforms into deafening gunshot every new victim of US drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Forming a chandelier, 15 white (toy) guns are suspended from the ceiling and point at the floor. Suddenly, one of them fires a shot or more with a typical deep, loud cracking sound, without rhythm or score. The shots are triggered by servo motors driven by a Raspberry Pi and a Python script: every gunshot corresponds to a new addition to the public dataset published on US military drone attacks. The “raw” version of this dataset (it is usually available in aggregate form for statistical purposes) was created in 1999 by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and it is accessible through open-source API thanks to the project by the artist Josh Begley. Another part of the exhibition connected to the process of extraction and data translation is a thermal printer that releases a paper receipt detailing every drone strike, with the characteristics and locations of victims forming a snake of white paper. This terrifying chandelier creates light in its own way and the data of the victims so materialised and transformed transmits information on different levels of perception. The firing of the guns is deeply affecting and the white winding ribbon of printed paper dangles as if a record of an account eventually to be paid. Chiara Ciociola

Artificial Killing Machine