Peter Sandbuchler

Peter Sandbuchler

Work from Tiger Stealth.

“The Tamil Tiger video footage was found on internet sites of private analysts of clandestine weapon systems.┬áThe boat is patrolling river banks. The crew is captured in heroic poses, thus creating a rather theatrical appearance.

The origins of the ‘stealth’boats are the subject of much debates, some analysts believe the design and construction to be indigenous to Sri Lanka. The Tamil population are by tradition expert boat builders. Furthermore the Sea Tigers have utilised speedboats as weapons over the past few years. The frame on the front of the boat could be described as holding spikes that fasten the boat to its target once they have collided. A further indication that the boats were not originally designed for military missions are cut-away parts of one boat’s cockpit that were found lying on the jungle floor. First seen in a video-footage captured from a Tamil Tiger cameraman before he had time to destroy the evidence.

“Be Prepared! Tiger!” is a project by KR in collaboration with Peter Sandbichler and was first presented in the harbour of Duisburg in April 2006 during the exhibition “Designing the Truth”. Central to the project is the re-enactment of a stealth boat as depicted in a propaganda video of the Tamil Tigers, the rebel Tamil liberation army. The boat seems to be a formal adaption of the US stealth bomber F117, a myth of invisibility and invincibility. KR and Sandbichler gathered information inside different networks and through private contacts in order to re-engineer and rebuild the boat.

It appeared to be unmanned, although navigated in the harbour environment by a person hidden inside the boat. Equipped with a silent electrical engine, it stayed invisible for a radar station positioned on the river bank.

The Tiger Stealth Boat is opening up a space of technological and symbolical transcodings. The Tamil appropriation of technology and symbolic power relies on their equivalents in the US. In the opposite way the symbolic quality of US stealth technology is ‘infected’ by the Tamil video. Even if it was visible the boat would hardly be decodable; yet it activates the clandestine dimensions of urban space. A further layer is added to this scenario by a website through which the stealth boat is offered up for sale. It is thus fed back into a commercial public context where its technical invisibility becomes a good that must be shown. What seems paradoxical is only consequential, both in the logic of the Tamil Tigers who show off their camouflage vehicle, and in he logic of the online shop that sells the stealth boat.” – Peter Sandbuchler

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