Accra’s defunct drones
The year is 2054, Accra. A drone project, the Black Sentinel Ultra was built by commission two years ago in 2052. It is a time when Ghana wants to show the world that it has a spot among the strongest African economies. Modeled after the Sentinel Military Drone, the Black Sentinel Ultra was initially intended as part of a space program involving Ghanaian communication satellites in space. However, the program soon fell to neglect, instead used for illegal surveillance activities in a Ghana where state surveillance of citizens is the norm.
Black Sentinel Ultra is presented as drones built by talented Ghanaian minds. They are powered by alternative energies that let them stay in flight for nearly 20 years. The drones can absorb sunlight and store solar power to keep them going. Yet the revenue generated to build the drones was squandered by government officials leading to a loss of $213.2 billion…and a heavy taxation of people to recover the money.
This is the premise of a visual installation put together by a collective of four creative Ghanaians: Yaw P, Steloolive, Daniel Quist, and Francis Kokoroko. Through performance, design, and photography, this visual installation tells the story of a now defunct drone and the two artistic inventors trying to give it a new drive. This futuristic installation was initially put together by Yaw P as part of the Scrap Drones Project at the Chale Wote street arts festival in 2015.
It reveals concerns about drones in Africa, along with increased government surveillance and the serious corruption tied with government projects. It also highlights the lack of a maintenance culture in Ghana, the kind that lead to Black Sentinel Ultra laying to waste after initial success due to negligence and illegal use. The two inventors seek to repair the drone and re-test it.
What do you think of Black Sentinel Ultra? What space do visual installations have to challenge society’s issues? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta