What’s the best way to make music with drones? According to David Rothenberg, an experimental musician, professor of philosophy and music, and visiting artist for Arizona State University’s Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future, let them give voice to their own secrets and struggles.
“I couldn’t get away from the idea of remote-controlled killing machines dispatched to war zones to eliminate enemies we are too frightened to confront in person,” writes Rothenberg, in a Future Tense article for Slate. “I know, these killings are supposed to be effective and precise, but there is something genuinely creepy about the process. So I decided that in my piece the drones would be talking—confessing to their crimes. Of course, I know they are only following orders.”
In the article, Rothenberg discusses the process of creating his “Drone Confidential” piece for Emerge, focusing primarily on the debate among members of the project team about whether to have humans or computer programs control the drones’ flight paths during the performance. Rothenberg created the piece in collaboration with Srikanth Saripalli, a roboticist at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.
Did human pilots win the day, or is Arizona’s best drone pilot a computer? And what does it mean to make art with robots? To find out more, read the full article at Future Tense.