We are in the dawn of the drone age, a turning point in history when the United States and other countries are increasingly using unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor behavior, collect data, conduct surveillance, and wage wars. As the ubiquitous vision and remote engagement of drones redefine contemporary policing and warfare, their impact is filtering into art and visual culture, generating new investigations into issues of visibility, technology, and fear. Considering an international array of video, sculpture, installation, photography, and web-based projects, this volume, the catalog for a recent exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, reveals the unique potential of art to further our understanding of, and give visual form to, modern drone warfare and digital surveillance. These essays illuminate how the drone embodies a far-reaching discussion about the rapidly shifting conditions of perception of seeing, and of being seen made possible by advanced technology. What is the relation of machine vision to human vision? And how do visual technologies affect our understanding of the agency of images, and of ourselves?
Featuring scholarly essays along with texts by contributing artists Trevor Paglen and Hito Steyerl, To See Without Being Seen is a perceptive contribution to the emerging literature on contemporary artistic practice, war, surveillance, and technology.