Max Ernst’s “Murdering Airplane” is an example of a Dadaist collage made in 1920. Ernst served in World War I as a German soldier, witnessing war’s horrifying effects first hand, and was attracted to the Dada movement and its anti-war and technology ideals. Dadaists were obsessed with the use of new technology as a medium, but were shocked by the magnitude of casualties caused by the ignorant and poorly planned usage of technological advancements in weaponry. The collage depicts Ernst’s disapproval of World War I by using an image of a plane with human arms for wings, in a field with a small image of a wounded soldier being carried by two other soldiers.
I wanted to make a contemporary collage of images to reflect anti-war ideas similar to those of Ernst, but with the connection to the recent wars between the United States and Iraq and Afghanistan. My collage focuses on the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as Drones, in the military. UAVs are remote controlled planes, first used by the military for surveillance purposes in the 1960s and later used for combat missions starting in the Vietnam War and continuing until the present day.[1|#_ftn1] The use of UAVs decreases troop casualties by allowing the pilot to be miles away from the mission and therefore completely out of harm’s way. However, despite this benefit, the use of UAVs is an off putting idea for it translates attacks on real civilians into a sort of video game where the pilot is neither exposed to any physical danger nor to the full emotional effects (ideas from Harrison Heller’s ).[|#_ftn2] Therefore the plane almost becomes its own being separate from the pilot, much like Ernst’s original image and its use of human body parts and the personification of the plane.
In my update of Ernst’s “Murdering Airplane,” I decided to use the fashion collage website Polyvore.com in order to represent the modern and easy ways we now have to create photo collages and to reflect society’s preoccupation with pop culture and “flashiness.” I used a pre-made template entitled “Eternal Sunshine” created by the user Helleka that has been used 1,043 times in the past month. Before adding my own items to the template, it looked like this :
I liked the natural aspects included in the template and the cheerfulness and brightness of the images and words that would contrast with my own. I was able to “clip” regulation size images from just about any website to Polyvore and use them on the premade templates created by other Polyvore users. I could then publish my set to the Polyvore website to be viewed and used by other Polyvore members. http://www.polyvore.com/murdering_airplane_update/set?id=38373895
I obtained my images of drones from of the Flightglobal UAV twitter website, http://twitter.com/#!/fg_uavs, in order to incorporate contemporary forms of mass produced media to compare with the magazines, newspapers, and anatomy textbooks used by Ernst. Besides the pictures of UAVs and UAV operators, I used images that depict modern images of strength and also the violence of war, as shown by the muscular arms with the gun and the multitude of floating limbs. These floating limbs along with the three men in the bottom right hand corner of the piece where also meant to highlight key elements of the original piece and how ideas like the violence and destruction of war are still relevant today. The remaining images such as the boy holding a video game controller and the screen shot from the game “Battlestations Midway” were used to incorporate ideas expressed earlier about the similarities between UAVs and video games.