james bridle



“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.”


Great, inspiring talk on technological developments.

And how a significant part of the problems currently emerging around the intermingling of the digital and the real is based on linguistics and ontological philosophy that’s thoroughly lacking in the public debate.



Guest Speaker - James Bridle

James Bridle describes himself as: “writer, artist, publisher, technologist and a number of other things”. As one of my favourite ‘artists’ this talk was of particular interest to myself. 

90% of Bridle’s work comes from the process. The process has become an art form in itself and not just a traditional set of images. 

Bridle creates spectacles for the public to easily and access and enjoy. His works are also designed to be photographed in themselves. One of his projects, Drone Shadows encourages the public to interact with the creation of the work. Using his skills in publishing, he created a pack to send out to his audience so they could make their own Drone Shadows (Fig 3). By sharing this method to creating drone shadows he allowed his project to become interactive and bring members of the public together with an interest of drones and politics. 

Bridle talks a lot in his work about technological and political privilege. Throughout his work he uses his own technical privilege to share the worlds events. In his ongoing project Dronestagram he shows the locations of drone strikes that are not publicised by the news or by government. As we do not hear about these strikes, the general public are not concerned with those affected by these attacks. In this project, Bridle aims to make the strikes more 'real’ by letting us visualise the areas affected. 

As a student who aspires to create work with the process as the spectacle, rather than just the finished product, I particularly enjoyed this talk. This has left me with a lot to consider ethically, politically and artistically. 


James Bridle, ‘On the Rainbow Plane’, a talk:

For his residency at the White Building, James Bridle will be investigating the relationships between the public understanding of technology and networks, and the classification of people and things performed by technologies. He will explore the embedded politics, from the technological gaze to data shadows, immigration, deportation, and rendition. James’ lecture will illustrate and discuss the issues which underlie this work, together with new works undertaken as part of the residency.

The explanation of rainbow planes is within the first few minutes, before moving on to renderings (of more than one type).
Drone Art-New Aesthetic

New Aesthetic. Research & Ideas.

BBC James Bridle Interview.

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.

More Here...http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23053592


James Bridle (London, 1980), Dronestagram (2012).

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.

James Bridle, cited by Andrew Blum, on the drone as a central metaphor for the new aesthetic, in The New Aesthetic: James Bridle’s Drones and Our Invisible, Networked World

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.
—  James Bridle: Waving at the Machines. Keynote from Web Directions South 2011
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, on digitization

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.

James Bridle on the Canon Drone

James Bridle was artist in residence for the Visible Futures lab at the School of Visual Arts, and is interested in all things drone. He looked into the most widely seen image for drone (#1 result on Google searches) and determined that its a photoshop job:

from One Visible Future

The Canon Drone does not exist, it never has. It is computer generated rendering of a drone, a fiction. It flies over an abstracted landscape - although perhaps the same one as another canonical image, thisPredator in flight, which, while unmarked, at least appears worn enough to be believable.

Where does the image originate? As the default drone photo, it is endlessly reproduced without attribution. It appears in Google Image searches for 2009, but not for 2008 - although I’m unsure how reliable this dating is. I’ve hit a wall in finding out more.

I think: the Canon Drone is emblematic of the liminal, self-obfuscating essence of the UAV, and all of our noumenal infrastructures. The most widely reproduced image of this most illegible of our contemporary technologies is itself a dream.

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”
An Essay on the New Aesthetic - Bruce Sterling via Wired.com

Bruce Sterling sat in on a SxSW panel on The New Aesthetic, and has a lot of observations:

Bruce Sterling via Wired.com

I must try to explain the New Aesthetic to a wondering mankind. Everybody who attempts this seems to hope and feel that the New Aesthetic must be a private solution to their own personal creative problems. Well, I myself don’t believe that. As a creative who mostly types a lot of words in a row, I have some other personal creative problems. I do think the New Aesthetic offers solutions to some of London’s modern problems. That would be a big deal in itself.

The “New Aesthetic” is a native product of modern network culture. It’s from London, but it was born digital, on the Internet. The New Aesthetic is a “theory object” and a “shareable concept.”

The New Aesthetic is “collectively intelligent.” It’s diffuse, crowdsourcey, and made of many small pieces loosely joined. It is rhizomatic, as the people at Rhizome would likely tell you. It’s open-sourced, and triumph-of-amateurs. It’s like its logo, a bright cluster of balloons tied to some huge, dark and lethal weight.

He goes on to say that The New Aesthetic is telling the truth, is culturally agnostic, is comprehensible, is deep, is contemporary, is temporal, requires close attention, is constructive, and is generational. But The New Aesthetic is also a

gaudy, network-assembled heap. It’s made of digitized jackstraws that were swept up by a generational sensibility. The products of a “collective intelligence” rarely make much coherent sense.

It was grand work to find and assemble this New Aesthetic wunderkammer, but a heap of eye-catching curiosities don’t constitute a compelling worldview. Look at all of them: Information visualization. Satellite views. Parametric architecture. Surveillance cameras. Digital image processing. Data-mashed video frames. Glitches and corruption artifacts. Voxelated 3D pixels in real-world geometries. Dazzle camou. Augments. Render ghosts. And, last and least, nostalgic retro 8bit graphics from the 1980s.

Sterling characterizes this as an avante garde movement taking shape in a postmodernist context where it was supposed to be impossible to have an avante garde. But we have left the postmodern behind – a reality that Sterling doesn’t touch on. We are in the time of postfuturism, where all our plans, and dreams of the future, never reached. We’ve slipped under the barbed wire and surveillance cameras of post modernism, and into a time of New Aesthetics.

Sterling pins The New Aesthetic in time by contrasting it with post-modernism, surrealism, situationalism, futurism. It’s just another ism, waiting to be forgotten after stirring things up a little, and then becoming just another page in Wikipedia. He says it could and should reach out more to the straits, it should have wider horizons, be more attuned to the impact it might have on others.

It feels like Sterling wants this new, inchoate, and bottom-up networked effort to be more self-aware, more finished, more graspable.

But me, I like the mess and uncertainty, the piles of debris, and the fractured, jigsaw-puzzle metaphysics lurking in there.

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.
—  James Bridle
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”