This book investigates drone technology from a humanities point of view by exploring how civilian and military drones are represented in visual arts and literature. It opens up a new aesthetic ‘drone imaginary’, a prism of cultural and critical knowledge, through which the complex interplay between drone technology and human communities is explored, and from which its historical, cultural and political dimensions can be assessed. The contributors to this volume offer diverse approaches to this interdisciplinary field of aesthetic drone imaginaries. Sprouting from art history, literature, photography, feminism, postcolonialism and cultural studies, the chapters provide new insights to the rapidly evolving field of drone studies. They include historical perspectives on early unmanned aviation and aerial modes of vision; they explore aesthetic configurations of drone swarming, robotics and automation; and they engage in current debates on how drone technology alters the human body, upsets available categories, and creates new political imaginaries.
description of the film’s end as reminiscent of a battlefield strewn with fallen bodies, I would like to suggest that this artwork makes another significant intervention into the drone imaginary. As Wilcox notes, the swarm signals not only the future of remotewarfare but also its discontents. In fact, in Western military parlance the ‘terrorist threat’ is regularly presented as ‘the threat of the multitude, of the swarm, of the concerted action of that which does not necessarily have a single head.’ 25 With this vision of the dehumanised enemy other in mind, let us alter
and Full Spectrum Dominance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016) .
17 For drones as new media, see for instance N. Franz, ‘Targeted killing and pattern-of-life analysis: Weaponised media’, Media, Culture & Society , 39:1 (2017): 111–121 ; L. Suchman, ‘Situational awareness: Deadly bioconvergence at the boundaries of bodies and machines’, MediaTropes , 5:1 (2015): 1–24 ; M. Queisner, ‘“Looking through a soda straw”: Mediated vision in remotewarfare’. In K. Maurer and A. I. Graae (eds), ‘Tema: Droner og krig’, special issue, Politik , 20
Nineteenth-century hot air balloons as early drones
human within modern warfare by flattening the individual into abstraction, statistics, and clusters. Of course, it is problematic to see distance as the moral gauge for warfare. Remotewarfare is not necessarily less ethical than an eye-to-eye confrontation, but certainly the asymmetrical relation between seeing and being seen (visibility and invisibility) raises questions of power and domination. Balloon warfare is a productive starting point to understand the sensing modes of drones’ network-centric warfare, and the operative images they produce.
way around. Insurgents may
seek, even gain, the sophisticated technologies to carry out remotewarfare;
however, this should not give them hope that they can or should face a greater
adversary directly. Instead, insurgent groups may confront competing insurgent groups. ISIL turned on the al-Nusra Front, its former progeny and ally, in
response to that group’s opposition to being absorbed into the Islamic State.
ISIL and al Qaeda have turned on each other following quarrels over operations
and which person would assume the network’s highest leadership position.