Rune Peitersen, The Operators and The Targets (2017)
The Operators and The Targets describes an imaginary relationship between operators in a military facility and their targets in a distant undefined country. As a consequence of ongoing technological inventions, a bodily confrontation on the ground seems to have become optional. Since the emergence of unmanned aerial combat, missile attacks are increasingly executed by operators of real-time remote controlled devices. This has changed 21st-century warfare immensely.
What does this mean, however, for the relationship between the controller and his proposed victim? Peitersen’s intricately constructed video delves into a grey area, visualising the drone strike system by showing how warfare is reduced to a combination of constant surveillance and a “hunt” between a predator and his prey. This unfair battle is made palpable by showing how a greyish landscape acts as an intermediary between the operators and their targets. A voice provides a narrative on both positions, thereby turning them into actual characters. Peitersen uses visual material found online: fragments of promotional videos about military drones and their operators, as well as drone combat footage.
Nowadays it is common to get an image on a screen that presents a certain reality; drones and remote-controlled systems provide an immediate and continuous sense of presence. As if distance has become “obsolete”. Nevertheless, we trust an image and act accordingly. This real virtuality is the basis of many surveillance techniques that are present in our society, in the public space, in our own home or as a strategy in conflicts that exceed old-fashioned border conflict.
Rune Peitersen (b.1971, Denmark) lives and works in Amsterdam and Brussels. In 1999 he received his BA from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and in 2001 his MA from the Frank Mohr Institute in Groningen. Since 2001 he has been represented by Gallery Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam.
Peitersen’s work has been exhibited internationally, and he has received awards from the Mondriaan Foundation. Alongside his artistic practice, Peitersen teaches at the Academy of Art and Design St. Joost, regularly lectures on his work and is a cofounder of several artists’ initiatives, including the think-tank Platform Beeldende Kunst (Platform for Visual Arts).
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