HOLLMAN Veronica Carolina
congresos y reuniones científicas
Drone images and geographical imaginations
Rio de Janeiro
Congreso; 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology. ICHST 2017; 2017
Institución organizadora:
Brazilian Society of History of Science
[Ponencia] Although drones were originally developed as a military technology, they are currently more accessible and sophisticated. These flying cameras offer, as we have been experiencing since the early association of photography and flight, the possibility to depict places from perspectives rather difficult or even impossible to have in a direct way. Cheaper to have and easier to ride there is no doubt that drones widen the experience of producing vertical and horizontal images. Familiarity with aerial imagery has stimulated both the production and the demand for drone images. The massive production of drone pictures and videos becomes a visual universe per se that largely exceeds its military origin. Suffice to say that only of the drone providers registered that 560 000 000 pictures were taken during the last year. In addition, the digital materiality of these pictures promotes a wider circulation of the aerial perspective. There are many websites specialised in the diffusion of drone pictures and videos which promote the creation of virtual communities: people share drone images they had captured and tips for obtaining better images. Drone images have improved their quality on the one hand, due to the achievement of more stable, autonomous and safer flights; on the other hand, due to the introduction of more sophisticated cameras. However this improvement is not just a technological issue. Some amateur drone photographers´accounts emphasise their desire (and effort) to recreate aerial images they had seen previously suggesting that aerial imagery is activated both when seeing drone images and producing them. Therefore, the contribution of aerial imagery in the production of current aerial visual universe should also be acknowledged. In other words, the combination of technological development and expertise in the riding of drones and operation of their cameras provide more realistic views. Most of these images are characterised by an immediate aesthetic appeal that turns out to be effective in a plethora of discourses and practices that go beyond military ones. Despite this fact, most of the literature about drone images have focused on their relation to war and military surveillance (Derek, 2011; Hall Kindervaten, 2015). I am particular interested in the non military production and circulation of drone images. I will argue that both the non military orientation and the realistic character of these drone images contribute to understand and use them as unproblematic images. Aiming at analysing the geographical imaginations that are produced, organised and circulate through non military drone images I will focus on two websites [ and ] in which amateur and professional photographers upload both photographs and videos taken from drones. I will explore the visual architecture of the images displayed, the categories proposed to classify and organise this visual universe and the sort of promises that drone aerial vision entails. Despite recognising the new setting opened by drone image, I will trace the links that this particular genre of image has with other aerial images produced and used in the history of Geography as a corpus of knowledge.