Katherine Chandler researcher, critic and artist

Katherine Chandler
Death by PowerPoint

Example of a PowerPoint Slide / Bureaucratic Structure

Recent studies of drone aircraft use the system as a figure for the Obama administration’s continuation of the War on Terror, highlighting ethical, political and legal implications of the technology for 21st century war. Yet, the symbol of the drone – an unmanned, fiberglass, flying object – is misleading. This analysis proposes drone warfare is as much a bureaucratic structure as it is a technical system. It studies “The Drone Papers,” leaked in 2015, and closely reads three PowerPoint presentations that are among the source materials. The medium of PowerPoint, as suggested by media theories of documents, has a format open to contradiction, troubling attempts to use “The Drone Papers” as evidence of flaws in the drone program, even as it asserts the structure of legitimation for the killings suggested in what has been made public by Obama’s administration. This paper focuses on the structures implied by PowerPoint and the bureaucracy of killing they articulate.  These media have become tied to “the drone” and are as much a part of the bureaucratic practices of killing, not just the surveillance and missile platform.

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