From Wired Design, a story of a group of protesters who were able to buy a used Predator carrying container for $300 and turned it art piece to protest drones. Also, check out the picture at the bottom: similar UAV containers were used as props in the Avengers!
“He told me it would make a great koi pond,” said James Enos, recalling the dealer in obscure military surplus who did business, along with his dog, in one of the weedy fields around Ramona, California.
“It” was the original logistical container of an MQ-1 Predator Drone Unmanned Aerial Vehicle — the most prominent model of drone aircraft that is waging remote-controlled war on suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.
“He was a nice guy,” Enos remembered of the dealer who had posted the unusual offering on Craigslist, but was close-lipped about its origin in the murky military surplus community around San Diego. “All he would say was he got it at the port.”
The koi pond idea wasn’t a bad one, but Enos had other plans for the 27-foot-long fiberglass container with a hinged lid. The sides of the object still wore stickers announcing its original price — almost $18,000 — as well as its overseas destination and even the name of the U.S. military officer who took delivery of it in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The dealer wanted $300.
“I was always looking for large things,” said Enos, who said that he first figured the box would make good building material. As a co-director of The Periscope Project, an experimental architecture and design cooperative in San Diego, he was constantly in need of salvageable items to use in construction projects. He knew that a fiberglass object that large, vacuum-formed in the manner of a hot tub, had likely cost thousands of dollars to make. “I had to have it,” he said.
But Enos soon realized he had a bona fide readymade on his hands. The huge beige container was a powerful object, one that touched many worlds: the drone war, throwaway culture, the American military-industrial complex and its hold on San Diego, a city whose economy is driven by a weird blend of sunny-California tourism and lucrative government defense contracts.
It also symbolized the controversial, covert military strikes that the presidential candidates have been talking about (and, notably, not talking about) in the run-up to the election. Drones barely came up in the debates — Romney said, briefly, that he supported the President’s use of them — but they have become one of the most singular aspects of foreign policy under this administration, and there’s no sign that aggressive drone strikes will stop, no matter who wins the election on Tuesday.
Enos and his Periscope Project colleagues decided to turn the drone casing into a “threadbare mobile dwelling unit,” adding a reference to downtown San Diego’s housing crisis to its other layers of significance. (“Homeless people say to us, ‘I want to live in one of these. Is this a FEMA program?’” Enos told me.)
They took the container back to Periscope headquarters in a U-Haul truck and got to work. The first step was to take it apart. It swung open at the top; inside was a formed and padded tray that once cradled the drone precisely, and which Enos and team later turned into a bench.
“It had desiccant bags, like you get when you buy a pair of shoes, the size of loaves of bread,” Enos said.
Carefully, Enos and a handful of skilled volunteers installed fans in either end of the case, scraped out glue, and put in wooden platform floors and carpeting. They added built-in shelving and wired the unit for electricity. They cut the hinged lid so that the center part of the container can be propped open to the sky. Furnished this way, the drone “coffin” is like a camper without a motor (it still rolls on the ten-inch casters it came with). Working with found parts and donated labor, the team completed the conversion for under $1,000.
[Read more here]
“Hidden in plain sight”: crates of MQ-1 Predator drones, with orange plastic lids to spare the fiberglass, stacked up in a still from Joss Whedon’s 2012 superhero movie, The Avengers.