About the project
Drones are in the air. The production of civilian drones for rescue, surveillance, transport, and leisure is booming. The Danish government proclaimed research on civilian drones a national strategy in 2016. Accordingly, research institutions as well as the industry focus on the development, usage, and promotion of drone technology. These efforts often prioritize commercialization and engineering, as well as setting-up UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) test centers. Frequently ignored in these initiatives are questions about the impact of this technology on our identity as humans and its effects on human communities. Our research addresses these questions from a humanities’ point of view by investigating aesthetic representations of civilian and military drones in visual arts, literature, and architecture. We call these aesthetic representations the “drone imaginary,” a cultural storage of images and narratives about drone technology.
This drone imaginary offers a prism of cultural knowledge from which the complex interplay between technology and the human community can be investigated. Our main research question is: How is drone technology represented and used in art, and what kind of human communities in conjunction with drones are constructed in aesthetic works? Answering this question demands a collaborative approach. Therefore, we cut across different disciplines (literature, cultural studies, media studies, philosophy, and architecture) and various aesthetic media and genres. Our main hypothesis is that aesthetic works provide a unique channel to reflect, experiment, and play with diverse visions of human communities. We work with a plethora of different community concepts, spanning from classical sociology to contemporary biopolitical notions of collectives (from identity-based communities to big data collectives).
The research cluster Drone Imaginaries and Communities is an outcome of the research network The Drone Imaginary: Understanding Drones through Aesthetics, both sponsored by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (2017-2021)