By Joseph DeLappe
I became interested in addressing weaponized drones in 2013. This was the year I engaged in the creation of a new work entitled Project 929: Mapping the Solar. This work essentially involved physically riding a specially equipped long-tail bicycle dragging custom made pieces of white chalk to literally draw a circle surrounding the entirety of the Nellis Test and Training Range just north of Las Vegas, NV. This performative intervention was engaged to illustrate a basic principle - the Union of Concerned Scientists have estimated that a 100x100 mile square section of desert in the American Southwest could provide enough space to create the worlds largest solar farm - one that could potentially provide enough energy to supply the entire United States. It just so happens that the Nellis Test and Training Range, the largest peacetime military installation in the world, is more or less precisely taking up the area in question. As such, I sought to draw a circle, to identify through a physical durational performance, an area that could be repurposed to create such an enormous solar farm. Swords to plowshares, if you will.
In researching the Nellis Test and Training Range (formerly known as the Nellis Airforce Base), I learned much about the history and contemporary utilizations of this enormous base. Nellis includes such storied facilities as Area 51, the Nevada Test Site (where 928 above and below ground nuclear tests took place), Yucca Mountain (the site of the proposed nuclear waste disposal site) and Creech Air Force Base. Area 51 and Creech have both been instrumental in the development and implementation of weaponized drones - the former is the site where drones, and all of America's experimental aircraft have been test flown since WW2, the latter is one of the primary bases for training, command and control of America's drone fleet overseas.
While I did not see any drones while encircling Nellis on my bicycle (I was very focused on looking down, avoiding potholes, etc), my proximity to this hub of drone activity and my growing awareness of the use of these remote weapons in our "war on terror" led to the direct engagement of such in my creative practice. My first works to directly involve weaponized drones may be viewed here: http://www.delappe.net/imaging/mq1-predator-drone---cowardly/
These works were followed by many others that can as well be viewed on my website. The idea to create a game focused on drone warfare came to pass after being first approached by Turbulence.org to propose a new commissioned project. I suggested developing a computer game about drones - I've been working with game based artworks since the late 1990's but had never actually created a computer game.