|: Alex Quicho
|: John Hunt Publishing
|: Technology & Engineering
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Small Gods deconstructs the mythology of the drone: as soothing sound, aerial spy, and killing machine. When we say 'drone technology,' we can mean the tanpura, a plucked-string instrument originating in 16th century India, or the Gorgon Stare, an aerial surveillance technology designed by the US military - and evoke competing notions of terror and transcendence. Small Gods leans into this ambiguity. As each chapter focuses on the work of an artist with a unique understanding of 'the drone', the book illuminates myriad facets of these entangled technological entities. Opening with William Basinki's first glimpse of the ash-clouds of 9/11 - which spawned both The Disintegration Loops and the drone-driven War on Terror - the narrative then zooms into the representational sleights of hand of British and American artists preoccupied with the West's stake in endless drone wars. Its midsection lands us in the doldrums: where Anne Imhof's Angst, Anna Mikkola's drone-watched runner, and Atef Abu Saif's drone war memoir find maddening safety in boredom, raising questions about the trade-offs between security and surveillance. In the final section, the narrative uncouples from earthly oppression - we're freed to explore future and spirit worlds with artists including Korakrit Arunanondchai, Lawrence Lek, and WangShui, all of whom use drone technology to envision a future beyond the burden of colonialism, racism, exclusion or, simply, representation. Empty metal becomes a vessel for escape, connection, or intention; a future-facing spirit, a ride into the afterlife, a god or a ghost.