Drone Aesthetics: War, Culture, Ecology

edited by Beryl Pong and Michael Richardson

  • Technographies
  • Published: forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-1-78542-103-7
  • PDF ISBN: 978-1-78542-102-0


There can be little doubt of the canonical drone aesthetic: a flattened aeriality that moves with an inhuman smoothness, drifting and pitching to capture an uncanny vantage. But with the unfolding, contested landscape of drone development and proliferating drone use, how is this disruptive technology changing our understanding of war, culture, and ecology?

This edited collection offers a pluralized understanding of drones by bringing together twelve essays from interdisciplinary scholars working on drone pasts and drone futures, encompassing fields such as cultural anthropology, critical war studies, disability studies, international relations, media studies, and cultural studies. It examines the intersection between drones and aesthetics in terms of visual culture and the arts; the body and its relationship to the material environment; the mechanic capacities for sensing and sense-making; and in terms of politics and what makes politics possible. To more fully account for the unique politics of drone perception, it also features three visual essays by multimedia artists whose aesthetic practices have shaped the field of drone scholarship. Offering new ideas and arguments about the technology, logics, and systems with which drones are intertwined, this collection scrutinises how the aesthetics of drones are fundamental to its ethics; how drone aesthetics are impacting the way we relate to one another and to the human and more-than-human worlds; and how drones are altering our relationships to life and death.

Contributors: Michele Barker, Antoine Bousquet, Kathryn Brimblecombe-fox, Edgar Gomez Cruz, Joseph DeLappe, Jack Faber, Adam Fish, Caren Kaplan, Amy Gaeta, Sophia Goodfriend, Mitch Goodwin, Anna Munster, Tom Sear, J.D. Schnepf, Yanai Toister, Simon M. Taylor, Madelene Veber

Editor Bios

Beryl Pong is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge. She holds affiliated positions with the Faculty of English and with Trinity College at Cambridge, and with the Department of English, Linguistics, and Theatre Studies at the National Univrsity of Singapore. She is the author of British Literature and Culture in Second World Wartime: For the Duration (2020).

Michael Richardson is writer, researcher, and teacher living and working on Gadigal and Bidjigal country. He is an Associate Professor in Media and Culture at UNSW Sydney, where he co-directs the Media Futures Hub and the Autonomous Media Lab, and an Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence on Automated Decision-Making & Society. His research and writing examines technology, power, witnessing, trauma, and affect in contexts of war, security, and surveillance.