Berlin, April 17-18:
EYES FROM A DISTANCE
On Drone-Systems and their Strategies
Opening Event of the Disruption Network Lab
In cooperation with Kunstraum Kreuzberg /Bethanien
Kunstquartier Bethanien, Studio 1
Mariannenplatz 2, Berlin
Meet a former U.S. drone operator, investigative journalists, activists, filmmakers and international experts on drone warfare
With: Brandon Bryant (former drone operator and US Air Force veteran, founder Project Red Hand), John Goetz (investigative journalist, DE), Ebaa Rezeq (blogger, Palestine-Gaza, video contribution), Asmaa Al-Ghul (Palestinian feminist journalist, Palestine-Gaza, video contribution), Chantal Meloni (criminal law researcher, IT/DE), Laura Lucchini (journalist, IT/DE), Tonje Hessen Schei (filmmaker, NO), Jack Serle (investigative journalist, UK), Dave Young (artist, musician and researcher, IE), Marc Garrett (activist and curator, UK), Marek Tuszynski (activist,
Tactical Tech, DE).
With the support of the Free Chelsea Manning Initiative Berlin.
Friday April 17, 2015
17.30-18.30 - Keynote: Inside the Predator
Brandon Bryant (former drone operator and US Air Force veteran, founder of Project Red Hand / projectredhand.org). Introduced by Tatiana Bazzichelli (director & curator, Disruption Network Lab.
19.00-20.00 - Panel: The Grey Zone. On the (il)legitimacy of targeted killing by drones
John Goetz (investigative journalist, DE), Chantal Meloni (criminal law researcher, IT/DE), Marek Tuszynski (activist, Tactical Tech, DE), Ebaa Rezeq and Asmaa Al-Ghul (blogger and journalist, Palestine-Gaza, video contribution). Moderated by Laura Lucchini (journalist, IT/DE).
20:30-21:30 - Round table
Brandon Bryant (former drone operator and US Air Force veteran, founder of Project Red Hand), John Goetz (investigative journalist, DE), Chantal Meloni (criminal law researcher, IT/DE), Marek Tuszynski (activist,
Tactical Tech, DE). Moderated by Laura Lucchini (journalist, IT/DE).
Saturday April 18, 2015
16:00-18:00 - Panel: Tracking Drones, Reporting Lives
Jack Serle (data journalist, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, UK), Tonje Hessen Schei (filmmaker, NO), Dave Young (artist, musician and researcher, IE), Moderated by Marc Garrett (curator, Furtherfield, UK).
18:30-20:30 - DRONE: The Documentary
Screening of the documentary directed by Tonje Hessen Schei, produced by
Flimmer Film, co-produced by Radiator Film, 2014, Norway, 78 min.
Q&A with director Tonje Hessen Schei and Brandon Bryant after the screening.
Eyes from a distance
What is the politics and the regime of power beyond drone-systems? Which are the consequences both on militant networks and civil society of an increasing automatism of conflicts? Can we track down the hidden strategies that move target-killings? Can we understand better drone technology? This event combines reflections on the political and technological infrastructure of drone-systems, the use of them in massive and weaponised military programmes, and the artistic and activist response to this.
The concept of drone dates back to the mid-1800s, while the first modern battlefield unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Israeli Tadiran Mastiff, flew in 1973. But it is in the early times that drones have been progressively used as a pervasive weapon for military purposes, adopted within the United States by the military, and the CIA after 9/11, and primarily applied in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Alongside, drones are used as technological tools by DIYers, as sources of areal documentation by journalists and filmmakers, as delivery systems by corporations, getting accessible for widespread usage by civil society. By bringing into a dialogue a former drone operator, investigative journalists, criminal law researchers, activists, artists and critical thinkers, we want to reflect on the power of drones in surveillance contexts, on the progressive automatism of conflicts, the invisibility of military operation applications, and their consequences on the civil society.
Furthermore, we want to analyse the scary fascination of the unknown that surrounds drone-systems, discussing on the application of drone technology and surveillance tools as input for political, social and artistic criticism.
April 17, 2015, 17.30-18.30
Keynote: Inside the Predator
Brandon Bryant (former drone operator and US Air Force veteran, founder of Project Red Hand / projectredhand.org)
Introduced by Tatiana Bazzichelli (director & curator, Disruption Network Lab)
What do we know about drone-strikes and the policy behind them? How does the drone-system work and function? Which are the consequences on civil society, but also on the military complex on the strategic architecture of drone technology? And what does a drone operator specifically do, and under which work conditions?
Brandon Bryant, former pilot and sensor operator who joined the US Air Force from 2005 to 2011, brings his personal experience as US veteran, and founder of the Project Red Hand – an initiative created in 2014 to expose mechanisms of corruption, manipulation, and wrong doing thanks to the networked activity of whistle-blowers, law experts, and civil advocates. Brandon Bryant was among the first drone operators to publicly speak out about the conditions of the unmanned aerial vehicles’ programme that he joined from 2007 to 2011, specifically the U.S. Air Force Predator programme responsible for several drone strikes and attacks overseas – actions that led him to start the initiative Project Red Hand. During his service, he was involved in seven missions in which his Predator fired a missile at a human target, and about 13 people died in those strikes. Describing a personal war experience this conversation deals with questions of power, technology and ethics, and how they shape our personal life, when we enter directly in contact with a warfare of remotely controlled technologies. Invisible and apparently distant, such military system creates a surreal temporary zone in which the operator works, where life and death intertwine. This talk reflects on the importance of generating public awareness and critical thinking towards power structures, and most of all, on the act of changing perspective and speaking out beyond the artificial dichotomy of heroes vs. traitors.
April 17 2015 • 19.00-20.00
The Grey Zone. On the (il)legitimacy of targeted killing by drones
Panel with John Goetz (investigative journalist, DE), Chantal Meloni (criminal law researcher, IT/DE), Marek Tuszynski (activist, Tactical Tech, DE), Ebaa Rezeq and Asmaa Al-Ghul (blogger and journalist, Palestine-Gaza, video contribution). Moderated by Laura Lucchini (journalist, IT/DE).
This panel brings together an international criminal law researcher, a journalist expert on the military use of drones, an activist exposing the physical, moral and political invisibility of US drone strikes in Pakistan, and witnesses experiencing the daily reality of the of drones strikes in Gaza (video contribute). Whether targeted killings conducted by drones are legitimate in the light of international law is very contentious. In particular, in the eye of the storm are the so-called "signature strikes", attacks on a target whose identity is unknown, which are authorised on the basis of suspicious activity. The panel discussion tries to answer to several questions around the use of drones, in particular in conflict situations: Who can be a legitimate target? How big is the margin of error? Are there any judicial mechanisms to oppose the practice of the targeted killing, and if yes which ones? Where lies the responsibility for an unlawful targeted killing operation? The goal of the panel is to create awareness in the civil society: only a broader public debate can bring the topic out of the grey legal zone.
April 17 2015 •20:30-21:30
Brandon Bryant (former drone operator and US Air Force veteran, founder of Project Red Hand), John Goetz (investigative journalist, DE), Chantal Meloni (criminal law researcher, IT/DE). Moderated by Laura Lucchini (journalist, IT/DE).
April 18 2015 • 16:00-18:00
Tracking Drones, Reporting Lives
Panel: with Jack Serle (data journalist, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, UK), Tonje Hessen Schei (filmmaker, NO), Dave Young (artist, musician and researcher, IE), Moderated by Marc Garrett (curator, Furtherfield, UK).
This panel brings together three experts that have worked specifically with the subject of drones from different point of views and backgrounds. Data journalist Jack Serle, who works at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, as part of the Covert, Drone War research team, develops the Naming the Dead project, born to increase transparency and awareness around warfare. The project tracks drone deaths in Pakistan, and investigates on who the drones operated at a distance are actually killing, questioning if they are actually ‘highly precise weapons’ as some assume. Documentary director Tonje Hessen Schei present the background and contents of her documentary DRONE (2014, produced by Flimmer Film, Norway), focused on the CIA drone war, reporting on stories of people targeted in Pakistan, on the life of young drone pilots operating in the US and on the consequent interventions operated by civil rights advocates against technological and political warfare. David Young presents The Reposition Matrix (2013-14), a workshop series that investigated the military-industrial production and use of military drones through collaborative open-source intelligence and cartographic processes. The maps produced during the workshops were used as a means to stimulate a discussion on the geopolitical systems underpinning drone warfare, and to situate it within the narrative of 20th century network technologies.
April 18 2015 • 18:30-20:30
DRONE: The Documentary
Screening of the documentary directed by Tonje Hessen Schei, produced by Flimmer Film, co-produced by Radiator Film, 2014, Norway, 78 min. Q&A with director Tonje Hessen Schei and Brandon Bryant after the screening.
Inside the secret CIA drone war. Intimate stories from the war on terror. People living under drones in Pakistan and drone pilots struggling with killing through joysticks in the US. The film covers diverse and integral ground from the recruitment of young pilots at gaming conventions and the re-definition of “going to war”, to the moral stance of engineers behind the technology, the world leaders giving the secret “green light” to engage in the biggest targeted killing program in history, and the people willing to stand up against the violations of civil liberties and fight for transparency, accountability and justice. This is just the beginning. In the midst of fast advancement of technology and lagging international legislation the film shows how drones change wars and possibly our future.
Brandon Bryant (former drone operator and US Air Force veteran, founder Project Red Hand)
Brandon Bryant is the he founder of Project Red Hand, a project that advocates for transparency, questioning the nature of justice, open access to the Internet, and veteran support. He joined the US Air Force in 2005, started training for the drone program April 12th of 2006, flew his first mission on December 3rd of that year, and fired his first hellfire shot on January 26th the following year. After leaving active duty on July 4th of 2011, he was the first drone operator to publicly speak out about the realities of the program. Seen on Democracy Now, CNN, Fox, published in GQ, Time Magazine, and collaborating on the the first article by The Intercept, Brandon seeks to answer all questions and get as much information to the public as possible. He was a part of Robert Greenwald’s documentary Unmanned and in Tonje Hessen Schei’s documentary Drone. He has spoken in front of the Security Council, and schools and parliaments across Europe.
John Goetz (investigative journalist, USA/DE)
John Goetz is a US-born investigative journalist and author, based in Berlin since 1989. His work has appeared in the Sunday Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and worked as a reporter for the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. He is now the NDR-editor for investigations at ARD-Hauptstadtstudio and a member of the investigative team at the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Asmaa Al-Ghul (Journalist, Palestine)
Asmaa al-Ghul (also Al Ghoul, Alghoul) is a young secular Palestinian feminist journalist who writes for the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayyam, chronicling what she calls “the corruption of Fatah and the terrorism of Hamas.” Al-Ayyam is sometimes banned in Gaza by Hamas. Al-Ghul is described by the New York Times as "known for her defiant stance against violations of civil rights in Gaza." In 2012, al-Ghul was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women's Media Foundation. She works for Lebanon's Samir Kassir Foundation, which advocates for media freedom. On August 3, 2014, at least nine members from her family were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.
Ebaa Rezeq (blogger, Palestine-Gaza)
Ebaa Rezeq is a Palestinian blogger, activist, and the Field Researcher for Amnesty International for Human Rights in Gaza. Since teenage-hood she has lived under complete siege imposed by both Egypt and Israel. She has witnessed three Israeli offensives on Gaza in less than six years. In the most recent one, her role had shifted from being a passive witness to a local source either helping international journalists cover the atrocities, or personally reporting them to different media outlets. Additionally, she has ve served as the main field case manager for Amnesty’s investigations and documentation of violations committed by Israel as and militant groups during the 50-day offensive.
Chantal Meloni (criminal law researcher, IT/DE)
Chantal Meloni is an Italian criminal lawyer and academic. Since 2008 she is faculty member of the Universitá degli Studi of Milan, where she teaches International Criminal Law. She holds a PhD in comparative criminal law and worked at the International Criminal Court (The Hague) as a Legal Assistant to the judges. Her research interests focus on International Criminal Law. In 2010 she was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship for a research on “The protection of the right to life in asymmetrical conflicts”, conducted at the Humboldt University of Berlin, spending several months in the Gaza Strip, with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. She is the co-editor of Is there a Court for Gaza?, T.M.C. Asser 2012.
Laura Lucchini (journalist, IT/DE)
Laura Lucchini is an Italian journalist based in Berlin. She is the intake editor at the international video news agency Ruptly. She has previously worked for La Nacion, Linkiesta and El País.
Jack Serle (data journalist, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, UK)
Jack Serle is a data journalist on the Bureau’s Covert Drone War team. He joined the Bureau in 2012 and was part of the team that won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2013 for their work on drones and the US covert war on terror. He graduated in 2010 and then studied an MA in science journalism at City University London.
Tonje Hessen Schei (filmmaker, NO)
Tonje is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has worked with independent documentary production since 1996. Her films focus on human rights, the environment and social justice. Tonje directed and produced PLAY AGAIN and INDEPENDENT INTERVENTION, both of which have won several international awards. In the U.S., Tonje worked for ENG (Electronic New Group, LA) and she was co-distributor and the researcher for documentaries All Power to the People! (1997) and Downwinders (2000). In Norway, she worked for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK (2005-2006). Tonje was the festival director of Human Rights Human Wrongs (2011), Scandinavia's sole documentary film festival that focuses only on human rights. Tonje started Ground Productions in 2005, an international documentary production company based in Portland, OR, USA and Oslo, Norway.
David Young (artist, musician and researcher, IE)
Dave Young (IE) is an artist and researcher based in Edinburgh. His practice follows critical research into digital culture, manifested through workshops, website development, and talks on subjects varying from cybernetics and the Cold War history of network technologies, to issues around copyright and open source/free culture.
He is founder of Localhost, a forum for discussing, dismantling and disrupting network technologies, with past events focusing on Google's entry into media art curation, and the role of analog radio as a potential commons in the digital age.
Marc Garrett (activist and curator, UK)
Marc Garrett is co-director and co-founder, with artist Ruth Catlow of the Internet arts collectives and communities – Furtherfield.org, Furthernoise.org, Netbehaviour.org, also co-founder and co-curator/director of the gallery space formerly known as 'HTTP Gallery' now called the Furtherfield Gallery in London (Finsbury Park), UK. He has co-curated various contemporary Media Arts exhibitions, projects nationally and internationally. He is the co-editor of 'Artists Re:Thinking Games' with Ruth Catlow and Corrado Morgana 2010. He is currently doing an Art history PhD at the University of London, Birkbeck College.
Marek Tuszynski (activist, Tactical Tech, DE)
Marek Tuszynski is Creative Director and Co-Founder of Tactical Tech. Activism, innovation and creativity are the major driving forces in his work, as much as the importance of marginalised voices, opinions and world views. Previously he co-founded The Second Hand Bank, as well as the International Contemporary Art Network, before Tactical Tech and recently Tactical Studios. In some spare time he produces a radio program titled Love & Chaos on Reboot FM. He is currently focusing on producing interactive and static visualisations representing complex social and political issues; very recently he produced and directed a series of documentary films for Tactical Tech called Exposing the Invisible (https://exposingtheinvisible.org/). The last episode of the series explores the physical, moral and political invisibility of US drone strikes in Pakistan, involving journalists, activists and experts inside and outside of Pakistan about the consequences of the strikes in the tribal FATA region.