A tiny car weaves its way past neat white houses unaware it is being followed thousands of feet above by a camera on a drone.
It all looks and feels like a video game much like it did to the drone’s operator who, his face hidden, reveals to camera his emotional detachment until the full horror of his work has sunk in.
'Five Thousand Feet Is Best', a 30-minute film by Omer Fast, is one of the highlights of the Brighton Photo Biennial entitled 'Agents of Change: Photography and the Politics of Space'.
Photoworks, the organisers of the fifth edition of the Biennial had a tough act to follow after Martin Parr, one of Britain's most celebrated photographers, curated such a successful 2010 Biennial.
But while the Agents of Change title may sound a tad dry, the rich material on display both at the Photo Biennial and its little sister, the Photo Fringe, is an engaging and stimulating experience on many levels.
Omer Fast’s film makes its UK premiere in the seaside city after being first shown at the Venice Biennale.
It mixes factual documentary-style footage of military operations and interviews with a former drone pilot with fictional scenes using an actor in a seedy Las Vegas hotel. In an interview, with his face disguised, the real drone operator details his missions to fire on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan using the unmanned planes. This footage is interspersed with scenes in a hotel room of the actor playing the drone's operator elaborating further on his disturbing activities.
The military and its satellites and sites come into play with the work of American photographer Trevor Paglen which features at the Lighthouse Gallery. His images of US military satellites and bases are both beautiful and disturbing. Paglen uses powerful telescopes - usually used to view distant planets - to photograph classified US government sites hidden in remote areas, sometimes as far as 65 miles away.
[Gallery: Check out more pictures from the festival]
The main festival is spread across several venues across the city. Over at the University of Brighton, the 'Uneven Development' exhibition pairs the work of Jason Larkin and the Guardian's former Egypt correspondent Jack Shenker, to show the construction of a luxury gated community in Cairo and the workers who built it.
Room, a brightly painted shipping container on the esplanade, houses 'Urban Exploration', an exhibition of projected images taken from inside, on top of, or underneath buildings, sites and tunnels that the public doesn't have access to.
Bradley Garrett, pictured on top of London’s Shard wearing a hoodie saying 'I'm a photographer not a terrorist', is actually an American anthropologist who is about to start a research post at Oxford. Garrett and his fellow photographers, or 'urban explorers' as they call themselves, have risked injury and arrest to infiltrate and photograph these unseen spaces all over the world.
Nearby, inside The Regency Townhouse, Gordon MacDonald and Clare Strand present work which is intended to make viewers question their relationship to photography and photographers. They describe themselves as 'wanton and serial manipulators of the facts' so it's no surprise that one room contains a complete fiction. Black and white photos of an eccentric young couple doing acrobatic poses in 1950s countryside lead the viewer to believe that this duo predated the British conceptual art movement in photography by at least ten years.
In the next room are two Perspex boxes, one containing 101 miniature photographers shooting their 101 subjects engaged in various activities in the other box. Downstairs, 'Most Popular Of All Time' shows dot to dot drawings of some of the most ubiquitous photos of our time including Tiananmen Square and Einstein with his tongue out. The viewer is invited to fill in the dots, thus completing the image and being compelled to re-engage with the events behind these photos.
Also to be recommended is 'The Beautiful Horizon', at Fabrica, a gallery housed in a Regency period church. Photos taken over the past 17 years by three artists and Brazilian street kids from the No Olho da Rua (In the Eye of the Street) project, document the lives of the street children.
Anyone visiting the Biennial, on until 4 November and the Fringe, on until 18 November, will be spoiled for choice with the hundreds of galleries and unusual venues dotted around town, all offering free entry.