A videogame about surveillance that’s designed to be hacked

The popularity of hacking fantasies today has more in common with a legend like Robin Hood than what might be immediately apparent. In both cases, one of society’s underdogs has found a way to cheat the systems upheld by authorities and turn them on their head—either through stealing money or hacking into computers. The technology and techniques have changed over the years but not the underlying desire. It’s only one strand of evidence that suggests cheating is an integral part of the human condition. This is something that Damien, the disabled dad and husband behind Sheffield-based game studio Ninja in A…


Killbox, a videogame about the true horror of drone warfare

Killbox is a game about drone warfare; about the experience of killing, of dying, and of the yawning expanse between the people doing those two things. It’s also a collaboration between US-based activist Joseph DeLappe and Scotland-based game designers Malath Abbas, Tom Demajo and Albert Elwin—one they hope will leave its mark on the people who encounter it. “At IndieCade we had a number of players cry once they realized the consequences of the in-game actions,” Abbas explained to me. Having played it I can see why. Killbox tries to get under your skin immediately, before you have time to…

a flying pantograph

Drones: good at spying, shooting, and now art

Will a robot ever be able to write a symphony? It’s a question pulled from that scene in I, Robot (2004) which, while cheesy, tugs on a line of thought that is only getting more relevant—if art is a particularly human endeavor, what happens when a robot tries to make art? Creators Sang-won Leigh, Harshit Agrawal, and Pattie Maes from the MIT Fluid Interfaces Lab poke at an answer to that question with their project The Flying Pantograph. The gist of it is that they’ve given a drone a marker and programmed it to draw on a canvas in response to human motions…


Beautiful drone photos depict the warped cityscapes of our future

Photography has always possessed this peculiar quality of contorting a space as well as documenting it. For instance, take motion photography, which captures the momentum of a moving object in a static image while often at the same time distilling the background into a blur of bokeh and light trails. Or tilt-shift photography, where the selective focus of a frame reduces the enormous minutiae of daily human life into a diorama of dramas. Filmmaker and photographer Aydin Büyüktas’ Flatland series, named after Edwin Abbott’s multi-dimensional novella, shapes the world of its subjects while at the same time revealing them. multifaceted…


Glitch Noir looks into the corporate drone hell of our near future

The Candidate, director Michael Ritchie’s 1972 political satire, depicted an exaggerated political milieu in which even the most earnest of candidates is shallow and ultimately believes in nothing more than getting elected. Ritchie’s exaggerated world, in other words, is the world we now live in. Therein lies the risk and perverse beauty of genre cinema: sometimes a filmmaker’s transgressive vision becomes our everyday reality. Writer, director, and animator Cody Healey-Conelly’s Glitch Noir is a genre short whose dystopian future may imminently be upon us. It is about streams of information and the use of drones. More specifically, a major company’s…


Chilling art installation turns drone strike fatalities into a shopping bill

This is artist Jonathan Fletcher Moore’s Artificial Killing Machine. Unlike other artificial killing machines—machine guns, shotguns, rifles, swords, switchblades, kitchen knives, tanks, battlefield range ballistic missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, medium-range ballistic missiles, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, to name but a select few—it is an interactive art installation. “This time based work accesses a public database on U.S. military drone strikes,” Moore writes on his website. “When a drone strike occurs, the machine activates, and fires a children’s toy cap gun for every death that results.” Since drone warfare is cloaked in secrecy, Artificial Killing…


Drone footage of ghost towns make them look even more deathly

The metaphor is so obvious that explaining it feels wasteful. Drones capture footage of ghost towns: drones and death, drones and abandonment, drones and societal disintegration. Sadly, we’ve seen this morbid movie before. drones remain macabre vehicles.  Well, not exactly this movie. Mic’s Max Plenke has collected examples of drone footage of ghost towns and, as the headline puts it, “the results are haunting.” That is not untrue. Filmed from any angle with any device, Chernobyl and Auschwitz-Birkenau will always be haunting. The same goes for Tomioka, Japan, which was abandoned after the Fukushima radiation leak. Insofar as the list…