“James Bridle talks about literature and storytelling when everything has become digital, the construction of knowledge and collaborating with robots. Ham, spam, word salad, and what is important in a tent.”
“We call it in, and we’re given all the clearances that are necessary, all the approvals and everything else, and then we do something called the Light of God – the Marines like to call it the Light of God. It’s a laser targeting marker. We just send out a beam of laser and when the troops put on their night vision goggles they’ll just see this light that looks like it’s coming from heaven. Right on the spot, coming out of nowhere, from the sky. It’s quite beautiful.” - Omer Fast
'The Light of God’ is a laser targeting marker, which is used to direct hellfire missiles to their intended target.
Bridle puts the attention on a new technology that is meant to be heard and not seen: the drone.
His efforts to strip the veil of secrecy from drones and to encourage his audience to ask questions about the weapon take many forms.
He has created a drone identification kit so that people have the opportunity to see what these unmanned devices look like.
There is an installation of his project Dronestegram, a social media tool that identifies recent areas of drone strikes, and Drone Shadow - a full-scale outline of a drone painted on the sidewalk outside of the Corcoran, across the street from the White House.
Using all the tools available to him, from Google Maps to social media platforms, Bridle explores technology’s effect on its users and urges his audience to have an effect on technology.
Bridle says he is both an artist and an activist, and he hopes his work calls into question our sometimes blind reliance on technological systems with which we come into contact every day.
Dronestagram uses the popular social photo network Instagram to share images of drone attacks that have been carried out by the United States and the United Kingdom in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Bridle collects information on these attacks through journalistic sources, primarily through the London based Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Furthermore he studies and searches for satellite images of certain locations, manipulates these with an Instagram filter and adds these to his profile. By visualising these controversial areas in the everyday surroundings of an online social network such as Instagram – which made a name for itself with run-of-the-mill snapshots of friends and families – Bridle confronts us with the harsh reality of these attacks. He puts our complicity and that of the network technologies, which make it possible to share this information on an ever-larger scale, up for discussion.
James Bridle (London, 1980) is a political artist and activist who in images, words and deeds critically exposes the consequences of new technologies. Science-fiction author Bruce Sterling calls Bridle “a Walter Benjamin critic in an ‘age of digital accumulation’.“ For Bridle drones are a symbol for the complexity of modern networking are a symbol for the complexity of modern networking technologies, which offer ever more possibilities, while at the same time becoming more incomprehensible and even threatening.
It embodies so many of the qualities of the network. Sight at a distance, action at a distance, and it’s invisible. I started thinking about it as an emanation of the network itself—not just a surveillance platform, but a dark mirror.
If you look very, very closely at these imaginary places you can start to see the grain of them, the outline of them, which is pixelated, which is digital. Because these spaces of our imagination are entirely digital now. This is where we do our thinking, this notional space in which we imagine possible visions of the future, which is what these are.
As we turn physical media—photographs, music records, books—into digital artefacts, we don’t merely translate from one medium to another, we render them readable by computers, by algorithms. The question arises: who are we doing this for? Bernhard Rieder calls these artifacts “data objects,” things which can be acted upon computationally, in turn producing what he calls “computational value”. We need to think carefully and clearly as to who or what this value accretes.
James Bridle (London, 1980), The Light of God (2012). “
(…) and then we do something called the Light of God - the Marines like to call it the Light of God. (…) We just send out a beam of laser and when the troops put on their night vision goggles they’ll just see this light that looks like it’s coming from heaven. Right on the spot, coming out of nowhere, from the sky. It’s quite beautiful."
This is a quote from a drone pilot from the movie ‘5.000 Feet is the Best’ by Israelian artist Omer Fast. James Bridle couldn’t find a photo of the 'Light of God’ and decided to create one himself. The image consists of the war aesthetic we have been witnessing since the CNN broadcast of the first Gulf War, and has a likening to Walter de Maria’s 'Lightning Field’.
James Bridle is a political artist and activist who in image, word and action tries to disclose the consequences of new technologies. Drones are to Bridle a symbol of the complexity of modern network technologies, that give us more opportunities but also grow more incomprehensible and dangerous.
"There is something about the notion of being piloted by absence that is tremendously dread engendering.” China Miéville.
Instagram is all about death. The 70s filters our parents used, artifacts of cameras we’ve never held. Nostalgia is the negation of death, it proves we are still living even without an identifiable future. Instagram is a machine for producing instant nostalgia, a ward against death.
Space is a really bad metaphor for the internet. We’ve used “cyberspace” and stuff for a while but actually it’s not a good way of thinking about it. The internet is not a space– and the good way to think about that is then trying to think of what public space would be like on the internet. There is no such thing as public space on the internet. And actually internet is not a space, the network is not a space, It’s like a whole other dimension… time, space, and the network… that we have to think about very differently.
James Bridle’s talk “We found love in a coded space”
Most of our cultural lives now, and particularly our literatures now, are spent in coded spaces. We live in a world where we increasingly outsource our memories and experiences to the network, which is fine… it’s good, but it has these intense consequences for us– that our time is spent in negotiation with the network in order to understand these memories and these experiences that we have. And that our experiences are co-created with these repositories of memory, experience, and so on online, on the networks.
James Bridle’s talk “We found love in a coded space”
The world is shaped by new technologies, but perhaps it is shaped more by how we understand those technologies, how they impact our daily lives, and the mental models we have of them. James will talk about architectural visualisation, online literatures, contemporary warfare and contemporary labour, in an attempt to articulate new ways of thinking about the world.James Bridle is a writer, artist and technologist based in London, UK. He exhibits and speaks worldwide on the subjects of literature and technology, networks and culture. In 2011, he coined the term “New Aesthetic”, and his ongoing research around this subject has been featured and discussed worldwide
Every Day You Play by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Read by James Bridle
Every day you play with the light of the universe. Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water. You are more than this white head that I hold tightly as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.
You are like nobody since I love you. Let me spread you out among yellow garlands. Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south? Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.
Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window. The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish. Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them. The rain takes off her clothes.
The birds go by, fleeing. The wind. The wind. I can contend only against the power of men. The storm whirls dark leaves and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.
You are here. Oh, you do not run away. You will answer me to the last cry. Cling to me as though you were frightened. Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.
Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle, and even your breasts smell of it. While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.
How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me, my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running. So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes, and over our heads the gray light unwind in turning fans.
My words rained over you, stroking you. A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body. I go so far as to think that you own the universe. I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells, dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.