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Resources on drones & surveillance

The second commission for the High Line Plinth, Sam Durant’s Untitled (drone), continues High Line Art’s mission of presenting new, powerful, thought-provoking artworks that generate and amplify some of today’s most important conversations.

Through his artwork, Durant seeks to make visible the intentionally obscured drone warfare perpetuated by the US, and to remind the public that drones and surveillance are a tragic and pervasive presence in the daily lives of many living outside—and within—the United States. The artwork is complemented by resources for additional learning on the topics of drones and surveillance.

The second commission for the High Line Plinth, Sam Durant’s Untitled (drone), continues High Line Art’s mission of presenting new, powerful, thought-provoking artworks that generate and amplify some of today’s most important conversations.

Through his artwork, Durant seeks to make visible the intentionally obscured drone warfare perpetuated by the US, and to remind the public that drones and surveillance are a tragic and pervasive presence in the daily lives of many living outside—and within—the United States. The artwork is complemented by resources for additional learning on the topics of drones and surveillance.

Artist's Zine

This publication maps the history and uses of drones and domestic surveillance. It is also available online in Arabic, Pashto, Chinese, Spanish, and Urdu. Designed by Alejandro Delcosta.

Download the zine
Audio portraits

Here you can listen to audio interviews with individuals whose personal experiences speak to the impacts of drones and surveillance, released over the course of the project’s exhibition. The interviews touch on topics including the effects of military drones, US domestic use of drones and aerial surveillance, technology and drones, and histories of surveillance in New York City. The goal of this audio portrait series is to tell individual stories that show the breadth and complexity of the systems that utilize drone warfare and surveillance and the impacts of these tactics on individuals, communities, nations, and the world.

Listen to the audio portraits

Produced by Gilded Audio.

Recommended reading & films

There are many ways to dig deeper into the topics this artwork touches on, including through the online resources, films, and books listed below.

Online resources

Airwars. “Conflict Data.”

Peter Bergen, Melissa Salyk-Virk, and David Sterman. “World of Drones.” New America, last updated on July 30, 2020.

Brooklyn Historical Society. “Muslims in Brooklyn.” 2020.

“The Drone Papers.” The Intercept, 2015.

“Drone Warfare.” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2010–2020.

Dan Gettinger, “The Drone Databook.” The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, 2019.

Dan Gettinger, “The Drone Databook Update: March 2020.” The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, 2020.

Diala Shamas and Nermeen Arastu, “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims.” Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), and Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Project, 2013.

“TAKE BACK TECH! the fight against the tech companies working with the police and ICE,” Mijente and aledelacosta, 2020.


Books

Drones

Grégoire Chamayou. A Theory of the Drone, 2015.

Hugh Gusterson. Drone: Remote Control Warfare, 2016.

Jameel Jaffer. The Drone Memos, 2016.

Arthur Holland Michel. Eyes in the Sky, 2019.

Jeremy Scahil, The Assassination Complex, 2017.

Richard Whittle. Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution, 2014.


Technology & algorithms

Ruha Benjamin. Race After Technology, 2019.

Safiya Umoja Noble. Algorithms of Oppression, 2018.

Cathy O’Neil. Weapons of Math Destruction, 2016.

Shoshana Zuboff. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, 2019.


Domestic surveillance

Garrett Felber. Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State, 2020.

Nicole Nguyen. Suspect Communities: Anti-Muslim Racism and the Domestic War on Terror, 2019.

Artist books, catalogues & interviews

Paola Antonelli, Jamer Hunt, and Michelle Fisher, eds. Design and Violence. Museum of Modern Art, 2015.

Lisa E. Bloom. “Martha Rosler and Hito Steyerl: War Games.” The Brooklyn Rail, September 2018.

Drone Vision: Surveillance, Warfare, Protest. Hasselblad Foundation, 2018.

Peter Eleey, Ruba Katrib, and Jocelyn Miller. Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011. MoMA PS1, 2019.

Omer Fast. 5,000 Feet Is the Best, 2012.

Laura Poitras. Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance. Whitney Museum of American Art, 2016.

Niels Van Tomme. Harun Farocki & Trevor Paglen: Visibility Machines. Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC, 2016.


Philosophy & cultural studies

Giorgio Agamben. State of Exception, 2005.

Hannah Arendt. On Violence, 1970.

Simone Browne. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, 2015.

Michel Foucault. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, 1977.

Susan Sontag. Regarding the Pain of Others, 2019.

Eyal Weizman. The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza, 2017.


Films

Drones

Sonia Kennebeck, dir. National Bird. 2016.
Imran J. Khan, dir. The Drone and the Kid. 2017.
Madija Tahir. Wounds of Waziristan. 2013.
Alaa Zabara, dir. Selahy (My Weapon). 2020.

Technology & algorithms

Shalini Kantayya, dir. Coded Bias. 2020.

Domestic surveillance

Howard Alk, dir. The Murder of Fred Hampton. 1971.
Assia Boundaoui, dir. The Feeling of Being Watched. 2018.
The Freedom Archives, dir. COINTELPRO 101. 2011.
Katie Mitchell, dir. Watched. 2017.
Sam Pollard, dir. MLK/FBI. 2020.

Advisors

Public engagement for Untitled (drone) has been developed by the High Line in consultation with an advisory group of experts listed below. In addition to the formal advisory group, the High Line would like to thank the dozens of individuals and organizations who have spoken with us over the past months of planning, offering their expertise, insights, and suggestions.

Aliya Hana Hussain, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the organization has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. CCR works creatively to advance and defend constitutional and human rights so that communities and movements can not only resist such abuses as racist immigration practices, militarism and the suppression of dissent, or the criminalization of Black and Brown communities, but can build towards a world of dignity, freedom, and safety for all people.

Mizue Aizeki, Immigrant Defense Project
The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) was founded 20 years ago to combat an emerging human rights crisis: the targeting of immigrants for mass imprisonment and deportation. IDP remains steadfast in fighting for fairness and justice for all immigrants caught at the intersection of the racially biased U.S. criminal and immigration systems. IDP fights to end the current era of unprecedented mass criminalization, detention and deportation through advocacy, litigation, legal advice and training, community defense, grassroots alliances, and strategic communications. IDP’s Surveillance, Tech & Immigration Policing project works to support organizing and initiatives towards a just digital future.

Myaisha Hayes, MediaJustice
MediaJustice is dedicated to building a grassroots movement for a more just and participatory media—fighting for racial, economic, and gender justice in a digital age. Launched in 2009 by Malkia Devich-Cyril, Amy Sonnie, and Jen Soriano, MediaJustice boldly advances communication rights, access, and power for communities harmed by persistent dehumanization, discrimination, and disadvantage. Home of the #MediaJusticeNetwork, comprised of more than 100 grassroots partners, we envision a future where everyone is connected, represented, and free.

Jacinta González, Mijente
Mijente is a digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx movement building and organizing. Launched in 2015, Mijente seeks to strengthen and increase the participation of Latinx people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice. Mijente has since become a widely sought after entry point and partner for Latinx people and communities across the United States, Puerto Rico, and internationally, to study and train together, to organize and grow power against, without, and within the state and to create the art, music, and space for healing that has transformed our network into a political home.

Ishraq Ali, MPower Change
MPower Change is building a mass movement of diverse U.S. Muslims and allies fighting for a future free from Islamophobia and white supremacy. Launched in January of 2016, MPower Change has quickly grown to become the largest Muslim digital advocacy organization in the US with a membership over a quarter million. As an organization rooted in the Islamic faith, MPower works on grassroots digital and field campaigns for racial, social, and economic justice, free and fair elections, tech accountability, immigration reform, combating surveillance, and putting a stop to endless wars.

Jennifer Gibson & Shivan Sarin, Reprieve
Reprieve is a legal action non-profit working for the most disenfranchised people in society. It does so in the belief that it is in these cases that human rights are most swiftly jettisoned and the rule of law cast aside. Reprieve defends those facing the death penalty and those who have had their human rights violated in the name of “counterterrorism” or “national security”, including those unlawfully targeted with drones. Reprieve investigates the use of lethal force in counterterrorism operations, support victims to bring legal cases, and campaigns to end the United States’ ill-conceived covert drone program.

Albert Fox Cahn, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.)
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) is a non-profit advocacy organization and legal services provider hosted by the Urban Justice Center. S.T.O.P. litigates and advocates for privacy, working to abolish local governments’ systems of mass surveillance. Their work highlights the discriminatory impact of surveillance on Muslim Americans, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous peoples, and communities of color, particularly the unique trauma of anti-Black policing. S.T.O.P. hopes to transform New York City and State into models for the rest of the United States of how to harness novel technologies without adversely impacting marginalized communities.