Drone shadow wins graphics category in Designs of the Year

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Published:  April 24, 2014
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Following on from our report on the 76 projects that were shortlisted for The Design Museum’s Designs of the Year 2014 awards, the museum has just announced the category winners. Divided into six categories: product, digital, fashion, architecture, graphics and transport, the nominations were diverse, but certainly focused on the experimental, the life saving and the critical. The category winner for graphics was the inherently political, and borderline art project Under the Shadow of the Drone, by James Bridle.

Bridle’s ongoing project takes shape in a series of painted installations of outlines of ‘drone’ aircraft. Measured out and painted on the ground at a 1:1 scale, the paintings make the invisible ‘visible’, an eerie reminder of the future of military technology that is already among us. The painted outlines have been recreated by Bridle and his team in various locations from Turkey to the US.

Drone shadow in Istanbul, by James Bridle

Drone shadow by James Bridle

“There is much excitement in many quarters about the possibilities of civilianjournalist, and DIY drones, but for the moment they remain primarily a military and law-enforcement tool,” explains Bridle on the Booktwo.org site. “As a military tool, the UAV allows its operator to act with complete impunity, which in turn leads directly to the moral vacuum of kill lists and double-tap strikes. UAVs are the key infrastructure of the 21st Century shadow war: unaccountable, borderless and merciless conflicts.”Awards judge Frith Kerr commented that the project “demonstra[tes] the power of graphic design, the simple outline requires no caption, no text, no explanation. Like a reverse conjuror he makes the invisible visible, this project is as far reaching as it is uncompromising.”

Measuring out a drone. Photo: James Bridle

The drone completed. Photo: James Bridle

Chair of the judges Ekow Eshun added that the panel felt the work, while politically important, enabled the graphics category to expand and to ask new questions in new ways. The move by the Museum to award the project certainly goes some way to demonstrate their belief in graphic design as a broad practice — one that is responsive to its environment, a documentarian to current affairs and socially active, in a way far more direct and less interpretive than art, but sharing a boundary nevertheless.

James Bridle in Washington

The seven category winners provide the list of projects from which the overall Design of the Year is chosen – and announced on June 30 this year.

See all the category winners at http://designmuseum.org

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