Giant Portrait Shows Drone Operators People Aren’t “Bug Splats”

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Above: From Creative Resistance and #NotABugSplat

From where a drone operator’s sitting, one blurry blob of pixels looks almost exactly like the next blurry blob of pixels, which is how the term “bug splat” worked its way into modern military slang as a way of referring to a kill. Now, though, a giant art installation in Pakistan wants to show drone operators that its people are anything but anonymous white blobs—and that that “bug splat” belongs to an actual human being.

The giant portrait was installed by an artist collective in the region of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa in Pakistan, an area where drone attacks occur on a fairly regular basis.


Villagers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with the NotABugSplat image on the ground behind them.

The next time a drone operator looks down, he or she will be seeing the face of an innocent child instead of clusterings of white, shapeless blobs. And even if the installation gets pulled, the portrait was apparently designed to be big enough to register on satellite imagery, ensuring it at least has some staying power on online mapping systems.


This is thought to be the original photograph used for the portrait.

The identity of the child depicted in the portrait is currently unknown, but according to the Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights, she has lost both of her parents as well as two siblings to drone attacks. Whether or not this will actually encourage policy makers to change how drones operate remains to be seen, but at the very least, it sends a powerful message to pretty much everyone looking on from the ground.
[Not a Bug Splat via @malonebarry] setting_up_2

  • BettyBenson

    MURDERED HUMAN BEINGS ARE ‘BUG SPLATS’? Do we really think that images of children in a Drone operator’s sights is going to stop him from pulling the “trigger”? In his case it’s either pull that trigger or face charges on any number of counts resulting in a lost military career. Guess what he’s going to choose – kill children. PROTEST THE USE OF DRONES – PROTEST FOR PEACE AND NOT THE MURDER OF INNOCENTS ANYWHERE ON THIS PLANET!

  • kevinzeese

    Even if one drone operator refuses to pull the trigger it would be a tremendous success. Defecting from the war machine is very powerful. But, more importantly this protest is for the public so that people, especially Americans, realize what these drone killings really are — mass murder of civilians. Excellent way to get the message out, shows the power of art.

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