Defense Pavilion is a four-channel multimedia installation. Its approximate dimensions are 9ft. x 9ft. x 8ft. All video elements were produced and edited by Alistair Debling. The installation was designed by the artist and constructed with technical guidance from Simon Lewis and Jon Roome.


What are the essential conditions for eliminating a hostile target in a foreign territory? For shoring up financial assets in volatile market conditions? For living out your fantasies in a digital kingdom? For representing your nation at the Venice Biennale? One might assume that such varied actions — with consequences ranging from death to distraction — would require an equally diverse set of infrastructures in order to function. And yet, when we look to the sites of these activities, a single form is ubiquitous: the multi-screen display is as common a feature on the desktop of the stock trader as it is in a moving-image art installation or a covert military base. Defense Pavilion takes the multi-channel workstation as the module at which militarization, global capitalism, gaming, and the art world intersect explicitly. 

Struck by a research image of a plywood-clad drone operating suite — which had the same DIY aesthetic as my own makeshift studio — I built a space that conflated the two, flipping a one-to-one replica of my studio on its side to give pedestrian access to a drone’s-eye-view of the interior. DIY is more than just an aesthetic, it’s mantra: “Do-it-yourself.” Or, perhaps more accurately, “did-it-myself.” A DIY aesthetic suggests a certain attitude, then, or even a politics. The politics of an artist proud not to have enlisted an army of unpaid interns to realize an exhibition. The politics of a president content to use drone strikes in order to avoid deploying troops in a dangerous war zone. The politics of doing-it-yourself is anti-democratic by nature. When we see these politics expressed, we see how an aesthetics of necessity becomes a necessary aesthetic.


(c) Alistair Debling 2018

Alistair Debling is an interdisciplinary artist working across installation and performance.