Bug Splats

(Last Updated On June 17, 2022)

I noticed this item and it reminded me of protest street art writ large. Although it is a kind of escalation of the art form, given the magnitude of the issue, it seems perfectly appropriate here. And you will not find any local people calling this an eyesore or defacement of property.

Combat is messy, but in the modern age of advanced technology, combatants can destroy their targets from a distance, practically eliminating any emotional impact. This godlike power has no small psychological affect and drone operators often refer to kills as “bug splats”, since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed. To challenge this insensitivity and raise awareness of civilian casualties, an artist collective installed a massive portrait in the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan—where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, an operator sees not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face. The child featured in the poster is not named, but is reported to have lost both her parents and two young siblings in a drone attack.

MQ-1 Predator camera footage - Not a Bug Splat Installation (2014)

MQ-1 Predator camera footage – Not a Bug Splat Installation (2014)

The installation is also designed to be captured by satellites in the hope that it will become a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites. Read more here.

3 thoughts on “Bug Splats

  1. When a government wants to murder a mass of people, the first thing is to dehumanize them, to present them as not really human. During the genocide in Rwanda, hate propaganda called the Tutsis “cockroaches”. And the Zyklon B gas used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews, Gypsies and Soviet POWs, was originally a pesticide.
    The site you refer to calls these drones “predators”. That is a good reminder, since in the USA today, this word is used only to label sex offenders, in particular those who are attracted to underage minors. The concept of predation is never evoked in relation to economic greed or military adventures, despite their numerous victims; their predicament will be presented as a natural catastrophe, an earthquake, a hurricane or a tsunami.
    Most comments on that site are quite supportive of this initiative. But there is one who supports the drones, I quote him:
    Bob says (April 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm): “The enemy is a religion that teaches pedephillia [sic], that women have no rights, that murder of innocents is ok in god’s eyes.”
    On top of the crude Islamophobia, you will notice that this person misspells the magical p-word. Bad spelling for bad thoughts. To support the killing of children for the sake of preserving childhood innocence, that is exactly the mentality behind the “honour killings” practiced by the most backward layers of Pakistani and Afghan society: to murder a young women to preserve her “honour” and “virtue”.

    • Yes, I find the “predator” metaphor unfortunate in most cases because the commenter almost never distinguishes between people who find images appealing from those who intend to project and act on their sexual impulses. For those versed in logical reasoning, this demonstrates the fallacy of the snowball effect. If we were to employ a thoughtful understanding of human psychology, the person who would extend his natural attraction to children to the point of genuine predation has more than a few mental and environmental “loose screws”. -Ron

      • Ron, I find your answer off the point, the link between viewing erotic images and sexual assault is quite another subject.
        Anyway, why do people always think that in relation to beautiful children, “acting on one’s impulses” always means assault, rape, or predation ? Are there no gentle and loving impulses ? Look at the standard heterosexual romantic situation: a boy sees a nice girl, he smiles to her, or he talks to her; maybe they will become friends; maybe they will eventually fall in love… no assault or manipulation, no predation.
        When I see a nice little girl, my “impulse” is to smile to her, and I “act on it”; sometimes she smiles me back, and this brightens my day.

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