Artist-in-Residence Sends in the Drones

The drones of Occupy Wall Street. Photos from Amazon.

The Occupy Wall Street movement gained an unbelievable amount of ground since its inception; spreading worldwide, gaining international attention, and drawing thousands upon thousands of people into the streets to acknowledge a corrupt system and demand a change. Of course, no movement—especially one with so many far-reaching ideas and, at times, unclear focus, is without its skirmishes. The Occupy movement's relationship with police departments has often seemed strained at best; an "urban guerilla war" at worst.

But this movement is different from the original tea-partiers or civil rights activists—or, really, any past movements—because of how publicized this one can be on an individual level. The advent of cell phone cameras, video cameras, the entire blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter have allowed individual protesters, movers, and shakers, to report from ground zero of this movement. And the whole world has been watching. 

But some argue that airspace is still the home of the biggest disadvantage to members of the movement. News helicopters and ground-based media were evicted from the Zuccotti Park eviction in New York City, while NYPD helicopters flew overhead to cover Occupy Wall Street Activity.

So betterArts artist-in-residence Mike Brown decided to send in the drones.

 From his own site:
Politicians and police forces are public servants and must be understood as such. They are meant to serve us and the mandate and money that power their usual authority is supposed to be rooted in the fact that they have been elected or employed to serve and protect by an informed public. This is essential to democracy. If a public is not well-informed it can not even really be said to be voting. In the absence of a clear channel of information regarding the behavior of our public servants we cannot properly govern ourselves. To be deprived of our right to basic information regarding the behavior of public servants is to be deprived of our very democracy. That it is the very servants whose actions we need to observe who are preventing us from doing so is unacceptable. That they may invoke minor laws as rationale for flouting major laws is unacceptable. ("On the Need for Outlaw Journalism")
So far, Mike's outfitted people in San Francisco and New York with several drones to capture what's going on at these protests. Check out this footage shot from a civilian drone of a Polish protest (not one of Mike's, but shows you what these things can do): 

The media is starting to catch on, from the Village Voice to the New York Times. The Atlantic is calling the machine an Occucopter (we'll see if the name sticks!).

Keep up with Mike and this project at the following links:

Watching the Watchmen
Slippereal on Youtube

Get in touch with Mike via e-mail with any questions.