Surveillant Architectures

Developing paradigms in media culture. This blog is collaboratively edited by the Surveillant Architectures Group.

“How One Man Watches an Entire City”


technology is progressing – now one plane is enough for a constant CCTV stream of every street from above:

“Watch This Surveillance Master Dissect a Murder From the Sky”

“surveillance master” – !?!!!?!!!!
great video effects I’d say. Strong analysis tools looking good.

The background story about the technology and where it’s being used:
“Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above”

new words learnt:
“image exploitation”
“circle of persistence”

sales pitch:
“watch here… and here… and here… and here…”

more images provided the company:

drone action

we had some fun with our drone yesterday at the first day of our two-day workshop. Looking forward to next week!

Drone_workshop_15Jun16_42 03 Christian

Drones & Satellite issues (with a bit of Big Data mixed in)

Talking points and links from today’s seminar, in chronological order:

Amazon delivery drones are coming


Ostfriesen testen Bierdrohne


Matrix Sentinel


autonome Kampfroboter: “Das Gesicht unserer Gegner von morgen”


a science fiction novel in our Semesterapparat:  Daniel Suarez, Kill Decision  New York, NY: Penguin , 2013 . – 495 S

Rezension von Dietmar Dath dazuin der FAZ vom 21.7.2012:


Surveillance in Science Fiction. About how most things that were once science fiction are now here and in use. Plus a list of actual surveillance measures deployed right now. linking to:


Martha Rosler quoting from Philip K. Dick: Vulcan’s Hammer


Anti-drone self-defense

Animals and drones – chimpanzee


Animals attacking drones

“Thank you, animals, for being able to express how we all feel.”

+ another comment below:

“drones shouldnt be considered property, if i destroy them, it is self defense in 100% of cases, as a person with programming knowledge, I know you can program to do literally anything you desire for them to do, and since, by sight i cannot know what they are programmed to do, and yet at sight they may be able to harm me, i have the right to disable them, they are hazardous anima they cannot be of traditional perception of “property” .. when i can see them, they infringe upon me explicitly.”



These Shotgun Shells Are Made for Shooting Down Drones


Long-Distance Jammer Is Taking Down Drones



new problems!  but what about robot rights?


Drones that shoot back


Prototype Quadrotor with Machine Gun!



Basically these things exist in reality and have been used in war for quite some time now.
The Intercept – Drone Papers


Al-Quaida anti drone instructions:




Eben Moglen: Time To Apply Asimov’s First Law Of Robotics “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”



typical news photo 2015 – it’s now OK to photograph someone from above and use that in newspapers



Big Data using Satellite view: skybox startup

“Inside a Startup’s Plan to Turn a Swarm of DIY Satellites Into an All-Seeing Eye”

“Skybox Imaging empowers global businesses to make better decisions with timely, high fidelity imagery and infinite analytics.”

Introducing SkyNode  – yes let’s try and order this for seminar use:
In the end, the aim is to have a live street-view. Example full-HD videos:

conflict in Tripoli



The discussion strayed into Big Data territory (even though we try to concentrate on aerial issues), so let’s have this excellent essay as a last point:

James Bridle, Big Data, No Thanks


Raben und Krähen. Das waren Frauen und Kinder.

Aus der Befragung des ex-Drohnenpiloten Brandon Bryant im NSA-Untersuchungsausschuss des deutschen Bundestages, 15. Oktober 2015

Flisek: Gab es in Ihrer Praxis Fälle, wo es zu Kollateralschäden gekommen ist, wo Menschen im Umfeld des Ziels zu Schaden gekommen sind?

Bryant: Ja.

Flisek: Einzelfälle? Worüber unterhalten wir uns, war das Regelfall?

Bryant: Ziemlich. Drei Kennzeichen: Männer in milit. Alter. Dann Raben und Krähen. Das waren Frauen und Kinder. Sonst Männer in milit. Alter, d.h. über 12 Jahre. Das waren legitime Ziele. Würde sagen, das sind Kollateralschäden, weil nicht entsprechend UN-Terminologie.

Flisek: Per se Männer mit Aussehen über 12 Jahre als milit. Ziele eingestuft – zum Abschuss freigegeben?

Bryant: Ja.

Flisek: Woran hat man das Alter festgemacht?

Bryant: Wussten wir nicht. Man hat gutes Bild von Körper über Infrarot bekommen. Konnte gut sehen: Jugendlicher, Kind, Frau, Mann.

Animals vs. Drones

It’s not just humans who dislike the small flying objects. YouTube has videos of drones being stared at quizzically by a moose, harassed by a raven, attacked by a hawk, butted by a ram, knocked out of the sky by a chimpanzee (who planned the whole thing) and a goose, and punched out of the sky by a kangaroo.

And bears hate them, even if they don’t actually attack.

via Schneier

“Bycatch”, a card game about drone strikes

Leading up to this Winter term’s “Up in the Air”, here’s a different way to talk about flying killer robots. “Bycatch” is a card game for 3 to 5 participants, played with paper cards and your own mobile phones. You get a lot of points for successfully killing a “terrorist” and only a few minus points for offing the wrong people. So the incentive is to just go for it. That sounds terrifyingly realistic. You can use your phone to photograph your opponent’s cards and use this surveillance to judge whether to strike or not – you get one blurry snapshot and that’s all. Yes, it’s cynical and not too subtle, but it also sounds promising – just ordered a copy for our upcoming seminar.

I’m curious as to what the effect of playing really is – does it work? Is this a viable way to “get” the mechanics of contemporary warfare, as exercised by the West?

What I know is that humor is often the only way to confront a terrible reality. It distances you from it, and from that perspective allows you to see it for what it is. How fitting for a game about drones.

Bycatch game

“The right to flight”: reclaiming the airspace

James Bridle is reclaiming the air, once the realm of utopia and progress, now reserved for surveillance and control:

T.C. Boyle on surveillance:

While we slept, machines have taken over the world, just as those old science fiction movies predicted.

I was quite struck by this, and it took me some time to figure out why. Now I think it’s because deep down I feel he’s actually right.

This is from him explaining why he signed the „Writers Against Mass Surveillance“ appeal released today. (My translation)

The appeal is now open to be signed from you, too.

Amazon delivery drones are coming



via BruceS

All the airborne airplanes of the world

Amazing stuff, real-time. Try zooming in to your location, then slowly zoom out…,7.02/7