Surveying the Drone Vision in Blue Sky Days

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Surveying the Drone Vision in Blue Sky Days

Type: Research master thesis
Title: Surveying the Drone Vision in Blue Sky Days
Author: Brussaard, Eva
Issue Date: 2019-02-28
Keywords: vision
drone photography
vertical perspective
Abstract: This thesis examines what insights the photography series Blue Sky Days (2012-) by Tomas Van Houtryve provides into concepts as vision, subjectivity and representation, which means that the series functions as a case study, a common thread. The drone as imaging technology challenges the traditional relation between image and vision. The remarkable visuality of the series, the vertical perspective, distorts our sense of spatial and temporal orientation. It differs from the visuality that long dominated our vision, the paradigm of the linear perspective. I argue that drone vision is a collaborative vision by a human-drone assemblage that should be understood as an embodied vision. Blue Sky Days problematizes the effect of the vertical perspective and the necropolitical logic to which it invites. In contemporary warfare, the digital drone image is no longer treated as a passive representation, but as an active entity, being part of a process. Blue Sky Days as a series of static photographic images emphasizes ambiguity and undecidibility, which contrasts the visuality of certainty employed by synthetic vision systems. Van Houtryve uses a strategy of anthropomorphism, a strategy that raises awareness for the fact that agency is distributed by human and nonhuman forces. His series humanizes the other, encourages empathy for the people living under the drone, which contrast the current of anthropophobia in synthetic imagery. In the last chapter, I discuss the series in relation to the debates around representation that troubled documentary photography, war photojournalism and art. Now hypermediacy and immediacy seem both a strategy by the military to create a civic weaponized eye, Van Houtryve’s drone photography is an interesting alternative gesture by emphasizing the process of remediation.
Supervisor: Westgeest, Helen
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Arts and Culture (Research master)
ECTS Credits: 25

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