Johanna McAllister Looking Outwards – 08

Ben Snell wrote a post about the piece Out of Sight, Out of Mind. This site, created by Pitch Interactive, shocks the viewer with alarming graphic representations of the aftermath of drone strikes in Pakistan.Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 3.03.31 PM While I agree with Ben that the visuals sufficiently convey the sheer numbers and impressively impose a feeling of fright in the viewer, I don’t think the piece is effective as activism. The graphics attempt to bring to light how we, the US, have unjustly killed masses of people.Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 3.30.13 PM

Though successful in displaying the terrifying power the US has had in killing masses, the piece fails to show that we’ve killed people. In their computational algorithm, they trivialized deaths into a binary form: innocents are red, actual targets are white. Not only is this failure frustrating because they only convey half of the important message, but also because they are perpetuating the stereotype that computers and algorithms can only be cold-hearted and binary.

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Though it does so, the piece’s objective is not to dehumanize hundreds of people. It took on the responsibility of telling the story of not only every drone, but every victim. But that dot on the screen, that blank silhouette can’t tell a victim’s story.

In the end, Out of Sight, Out of Mind successfully contributes to the dialogue on drone strikes’ immorality, though not in the way they intended. Through their failure, they exemplify how large-scale killings damage our perspective of people who are not our own.