Omer Fast's piece on drone warfare launches Rose Video
'5000 Feet is the Best' is one of five exhibits to open at Rose Art Museum Sept. 17
Omer Fast's video "5000 Feet is the Best" is one of five new exhibits that will open at the Rose Art Museum Sept. 17.
The video launches Rose Video, an ongoing video series housed in the newly renovated Mildred S. Lee Gallery. The work employs both documentary and cinematic techniques to confront America’s use of drones and their effects. The work’s title refers to ideal height of a war drone, according to the former Predator Drone aerial vehicle operator whom Fast interviewed for the piece.
“It’s not like a video game. I can’t switch it off. It’s always there,” the pilot says of his ongoing trauma.
The drone pilot’s anxieties and observations are spliced together with a staged dramatization of an interview with a fictional drone operator. This fictional interview occurs in three sequences, which begin and end the same way, but each offers a different anecdote or extended metaphor on the origins and repercussions of drone technology. By displacing some of the psychological effects of the job onto an actor, Fast highlights the ethical ambiguities of drone surveillance and warfare in society at large.
Fast has said that he likes to work with those “whose story is somewhere between an experience and its reenactment, the push and pull between historical time, personal time and dramatic time.” Here Fast structures the elliptical interview sequences to resemble the trauma that they describe. By inserting himself into the narrative, Fast encourages us to likewise imagine ourselves as a witness and participant in an expanded debate over drones and American foreign policy.
For more articles about the fall arts season, as well as full event listings, read the current issue of the Brandeis arts magazine State of the Arts.
Lori Cole is the Charlotte Zysman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and lecturer in fine arts.