Drones Against Drones: Metadata 2012-2013
This piece is part of Drones Against Drones, an ongoing collection of musical works and performative gestures devised in opposition to the U.S. government's ongoing use of unmanned aircraft campaigns in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere

ScorePercussion Chart • Performance Notes • Audio • Video

From the program notes, April 4 2014:

John Brennan is the current director of the CIA. Prior to taking this position, he was one of President Obama's top counterterrorism advisors. It was during this time that he claimed the CIA's covert campaign of drone strikes hadn't resulted in "a single collateral death" (June 29th, 2011). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported approximately 45 civilian deaths from drone strikes in the year leading up to Brennan's statement. If we can't trust the CIA, who can we trust?

When Brennan assumed the role of CIA chief, he spoke of a drawdown of drone strikes. As of this writing, the last drone strike in Pakistan was on Christmas Day, 2013. The most recent drone attack in Yemen was March 12th, 2014. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism claims that over 4,000 civilians have lost their lives due to U.S. remote bombing. The White House denies that the numbers are anywhere near as high. Human rights journalists are attempting to negotiate this "reality gap": validating the lives and deaths of those the American government will kill, but won't acknowledge.

Using information from data artist Josh Begley's Dronestream project, I added up the number of secret drone attacks in 2012 and 2013. The number was 174. I took this number and randomized it across 730 (two years' worth of days) places on a timeline. This is the percussion chart for this piece. This randomization takes these real events and subjects them to a process of abstraction. I had no desire to directly conflate a percussive gesture with military actions resulting in death. But I felt these events had to be acknowledged; the abstraction is out of respect. It's reality once-removed.

"Drones Against Drones Metadata 2012-2013" is a work signifying mourning, anger, and an attempt at broader awareness. After the performance, I urge members of the audience to sign a pledge that they will never participate in the United States' disproportionately one-sided bombing of some of the world's poorest regions.

Other Resources

Living Under Drones

The Bureau for Investigative Journalism

Naming the Dead

jefftobias [at]