University of Rochester

Home Drone: A Public Art 'Intervention' By Two Rochester Artists

March, 2013

Rochester artists Heather Layton and Brian Bailey collaborated on the construction of a "social intervention" art installation, designed to foster discussion and reflection on the impact of remote war technology using unmanned drones.

final drone

An 18-foot-long rhinestone covered replica of a U.S. Predator drone was the center of new multimedia art exhibit opening on Friday, March 1, at the Hampden Gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

artist gluing rhinetonesHeather Layton glues thousands of rhinestones, along with other "sparkly" materials, onto the replica warcraft.

Through this exhibit—entitled Home Drone—Heather Layton, a senior arts lecturer at the University of Rochester, and Brian Bailey, a professor of adolescence education at Nazareth College, challenge viewers to imagine their reaction if thousands of deadly drones struck in the U.S.—specifically Massachusetts—rather than in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

Guided by additional information from the 2012 report "Living Under Drones" by law professors at Stanford and New York University, Layton and Bailey hope to shed light on people affected by the attacks.

Layton and Bailey were named "citizen diplomats" by the U.S. Department of State in 2012. They traveled to Pakistan as "art ambassadors" and met with Pakistanis directly impacted by U.S. drone strikes, as well as Pakistani educators and diplomats.

According to Bailey, "The report shows through personal interviews both the devastation caused by drones and the fear of those who live under them experience, knowing an attack can happen at any time."

map Layton shows off the large map she designed to accompany her exhibit.

Layton and Bailey superimposed a map of drone strikes that have occurred in Pakistan onto a map of Massachusetts, to illustrate the damage and affect if analogous strikes were to occur. "... if we can send missiles through the skies of an independent country with the explanation that we are only killing those who are planning to fight against us, what should prevent another country from sending unmanned aerial vehicles into United States airspace to kill those who might be planning to fight against them? This is what Home Drone explores," Layton says.


The 18-foot drone replica on display in Sage Art Gallery before traveling to an upcoming art exhibit at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst .

propeller-end view of drone

Assembly of the large piece took many hands.

woman looking at video

"When Heather Layton and Brian Bailey journeyed from Rochester to Pakistan a year ago for a conference on peace, they learned how much resentment U.S drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — caused in that country." -- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

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exhibit through windowThe exhibit included videos of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debating drone strikes and of civilians protesting the strikes, and a wall-sized map of the drone attack sites superimposed over a drawing of Massachusetts, beginning with the site of the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

pins in map