Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Archive for the ‘war_technology’ Category

Drones on the Attack

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Sci fi has long predicted an army of drones, however today’s NYC Times’ article on Microdones is at once awe striking and fearful. Hear are a few excerpts that rung strongly as I read through the article:

Last summer, fighter jets were almost scrambled after a rogue Fire Scout drone, the size of a small helicopter, wandered into Washington’s restricted airspace.

“There’s a kind of nostalgia for the way wars used to be,” said Deane-Peter Baker, an ethics professor at the United States Naval Academy, referring to noble notions of knight-on-knight conflict. Drones are part of a post-heroic age, he said, and in his view it is not always a problem if they lower the threshold for war. “It is a bad thing if we didn’t have a just cause in the first place,” Mr. Baker said. “But if we did have a just cause, we should celebrate anything that allows us to pursue that just cause.”

One of the smallest drones in use on the battlefield is the three-foot-long Raven, which troops in Afghanistan toss by hand like a model airplane to peer over the next hill.

And here are a few images of the shrinking size of drones:
Predator Drone Firing The highly used Predator Drone, particularly since 9/11.

Shadow Drone The Shadow Drone.

Hummingbird Drone And as photographed in the NY Times article the prototype for a hummingbird-like drone.

Of course in more recent critical art practices, setting aside the long history of drones in Science Fiction, there are several works that come to mind, particularly the long standing fictional work of Alex Rivera – Cybracero and the sculptural work “Parasitos Urbanos” of Gilberto Esparza. Although Esparza’s work reflects upon the self-sufficient nature of Mexico City’s street commerce, Rivera’s work points squarely at the de-humanizing aspects of the transnational corporate-military machine. Unfortunately, critical art, does little to stop the growing drone army by the Empire’s military. And we – all tax paying U.S. citizens and non-citizens are contributors.

Written by ricardo

June 20th, 2011 at 7:34 am

Ben Rubin at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

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The Ben Rubin show at Bryce Wolkowitz titled Vextors is definitely worth the visit. Although the work is a bit slick for my taste and some of the most interesting aspects about the work get lost in the presentation, it’s an attractive show. Also Rubin’s form of data visualization is much more exciting and creative than most of the data viz we see… black screens with floating vectors.
Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin

Written by ricardo

January 16th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Posted in fine_arts,net_art,war_technology

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Kick off 2007 – Build an AK47

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Print the various pieces of the gun to use as templates, download files.

ak_print1ak_print2ak_print3 ak_print4ak_print5ak_print6


Final to scale, wooden AK47, ready to ship!

I remember stepping into the Managua Airport in 1980 or 81 and being surprised and intimidated by the number of Sandinista soldiers holding AK47s. I was about nine years old, it was my first time back in Nicaragua following the 1978-79 popular uprising and final push of a long lasting struggle against the Somoza dynasty. At the time, I had never been in an airport so heavily monitored and in arms-distance of fatigued soldiers holding automatic weapons (supplied generously by the Soviet Union).

Through the Cold War, the AK47 became the most ubiquitous automatic fire arm in the world. A weapon that at once signifies revolution – struggle, turmoil, passion and oppression. In the late 80s, during my teens, I got to fire an AK47 and feel it’s rush of power.

Based on these memories, I decided to fabricate a wooden AK47 as part of a piece for an exhibition in St. Petersburg. I did so by creating an illustration of the gun to use as a template to draw the various pieces onto thick wood panel and then with a jigsaw cut them out, round the pieces as necessary and dowel them together to assemble a handcrafted toy gun. Download and print the Illustrator files to create your own AK47. You will need approximately 2″ thick wood panel, 1.5″ and .25″ thick dowel, a jigsaw or scroll saw, drill, sander, sandpaper and a stain of choice.

In the zipped folder, you will find three Illustrator files: “illustration.ai” is the entire to scale outline; “illustration2.ai” are the various sections separated into layers ready to print onto 8.5″x11″ pager; and “illustration3.ai” is a final section of the gun to be printed out on legal size paper.  Download files.

Written by ricardo

January 1st, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Posted in war_technology

Somber Graphics, NY Times Interactive Mapping of US military dead in Iraq

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October 26, 2005
With the US military death toll reaching 2000 in Iraq, the NY Times has composed a macabre interactive web presentation of the dead. One may search by date of death, name, home or age (there are 19 listed who have died at the age of 18).

The US incursion into Iraq presents the highest military loss since Vietnam. Once again it seems as if history has been forgotten and the same mistakes are executed. The democrat congressional members voice their regrets at having voted for the invasion. They say that they were misinformed, but in reality were meek and incapable of standing against being strong armed into a lengthy, costly and unnecessary error.

I wonder if the NY Times has used XML to build this flash application, so that the look at those who died in Iraq will continue to update as no clear end seems possible in this invasion.

I also wonder if anyone is searching for the means to create an equivalent presentation for the Iraqi who have died, it would be a useful reminder of who are the ones that are suffering the most. There is of course the Iraq Body Count that reports the number of civilian deaths due to the military intervention, but the database depends on media-reports and can not present details or images of the dead.

I was on a flight this past Sunday and sat next to a man from New Orleans. We talked about the disaster in New Orleans and he complained at the lack of spending in rebuilding New Orleans while we spend so much money on rebuilding another country. He questioned where our country’s priorities lay.

NY Times “A Look at Those Who Died in Iraq:


The Iraq Body Count:


Written by ricardo

October 28th, 2006 at 9:13 pm

Posted in war_technology

Guiltless and Sickening Army Recruitment

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August 16, 2005

The army swarms the malls, entertainment centers, 42nd street, television and online youth oriented sites seeking to send naive and uncertain kids to face war and death.
Recruitment officers have quotas and their wet dream is some 18 year old who may not have gotten into college, may be rebelling against their home, may not want to go to college and is basically uncertain about what s/he is supposed to do with her/his life. And there is no fucken sense of guilt in targeting this kid. And what socio-economic background is this kid likely to be coming from? You can bet that the children of senators, congressmen, our president would never end up in a recruitment office because they are uncertain about their future.

I was checking out the ifilm site again and it’s riddled with these highly romanticized, bullshit army ads that would only function on a kid who doesn’t know any better and hasn’t been taught to be critical of our authorities and all the lies that they spread.
Every recruitment officer should be regularly informed of the army life and personal situation of each youth that s/he recruits, should be informed if that person is facing warfare, should be informed if that person has been injured or died. Perhaps then they may feel a shred of guilt at targeting the youth of our country and taking advantage of their uncertainty, socio-economic background, lack of resources, naive notions of patriotism. Of course, it’s naive of me that they would give a shit, after all most recruitment officers themselves have been brainwashed into thinking that they represent the only truth…

Written by ricardo

October 28th, 2006 at 8:01 pm

ifilm – warzone

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August 06, 2005

ifilm.com, one of the surviving dotcom / web entertaiment / web tv sites has a channel dedicated to warfare.  Riddled with Army advertisements, warzone capitalizes on people’s voyeuristic desires to view war and death at a safe virtual distance.  At the time of the Civil War people would set up picnics and enjoy battles on the outer bounds of the battle field, though there were plenty of civilian casualties due to these leasurely afternoon picnics.
Now one may experience the war, all be it not in realtime or physical space, but also without a worry of being hit by a stray bullet by loading http://www.ifilm.com/warzone and then downloading from the selection of clips, some sent by U.S. soldiers.  One may even rate a clip and it seems that amongst the most popular are the violent, fire heavy clips shot and edited by soldiers.
If you dig around you can also find documentaries that are critical of the war in Iraq such as Robert Greewald’s Uncovered: The War on Iraq – War and Failure
The web doesn’t cease to amaze me as aspiring film makers caught in the middle of warfare can document, edit and share their lives.

Written by ricardo

October 28th, 2006 at 7:52 pm

Posted in war_technology

A New Model Army

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February 16, 2005
The Bush Administration’s proposed budget cuts into eductation, health care, assisted living… and will effect countless initiatives and programs designed to aid the country’s youth, and those in need.  But a $127 billion dollar project called Future Combat Systems must receive generous funding to protect our civilization, modern society, put an end to terrorism…  Not so long ago thinkers theorized that the Age of Warfare was being supplanted by Late Capitalism – afterall who needs blood shed when a region can be overtaken by capitalist enterprise.  I tend to blame capitalism itself for a new age of warfare and now it will feed once again the latest advancements in technology!

Check out the NY Times article – A New Model Army Soldier Rolls Closer to the Battlefield

Written by ricardo

October 28th, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Posted in war_technology