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Drone review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘powerful and strangely revelatory’

Harry Josephine Giles in Drone. Photo: Rich Dyson
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When Harry Josephine Giles catches the whining drone at the beginning of their multimedia cabaret, it’s like they’re squashing an insect, and when they release it at the end it’s like they’re letting go of a bird.

Through Giles’ poetry, Jamie Wardrop’s restless video – sometimes sci-fi, sometimes like grainy military targets, all mixed live – and the knob-twiddling analogue synth sounds of Neil Simpson, the Drone takes on a life.

She – always she – has an unfulfilling job in an office, she tries veganism, she gets bored of her unfulfilling job and joins a rhino welfare project in Africa. Giles’ narrative imagines the drone as an average American except she can fly, and destroy. It’s about how we anthropomorphise – the drone is ‘she’, as is the drone’s cat – just as much as how we dehumanise.

Some of the time Giles, in an amazing metal sleeve of a dress, delivers the words as though they’re trying seducing us, some of the time they gob them up as if in disgust.

As the piece works itself up into a panic attack of distorted sound, pixelated video and furious words, it becomes like fully sensory poetry. Sound and video are counterpoint rather than complement, but the whole bewildering experience is strangely revelatory.

What it reveals is drones, like people, contain multitudes. They’re the poster girls of modern warfare at the same time as they’ve transformed the wide shots at the beginning of nature documentaries. They’re the annoying, pervy neighbour, and they’re eyes on bits of the world humans have never seen before.

Writer and performer Harry Josephine Giles: ‘My work is about political feeling’


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Powerful onslaught of poetry, video and sound that imagines life from a drone’s eye view