Dronework

This lecture takes us back to thoughts at the beginning of the lecture series. Discussing visual technologies that exceed the capabilities of the human eye.

We mainly focussed on medical technologies and weaponised vision.

The imaging technologies we looked at used translated data rather than images.

  • Objectivity and subjectivity
  • Indexical: physical trace of evidence, something has been there, images are physical data.

Recent imaging technology: new cameras go beyond the human eye, no longer based on it.

Computational photography: information of time, time distortion, imaging in 4 dimensions.

Femto photography: Trillian frames per second, can show light in motion; beyond what the human eye can see.

Plenoptic or ‘Light Field’ Camera

picture1

  • Shows more than one perspective, because it captures than just a single scene you can change the focus in post-production.

Jules Spinatsch

picture2

  • During 2009 this was the largest panorama, but now it probably isn’t.
  • Shown is 8 hours’ worth of images. When looking at the image however you want to think it’s all the same time because of our own relation to time and images are usually a single moment.
  • Panorama: cannot see the world in this way, makes it strange to look at.
  • No longer to do with what our eye is capable of seeing.

Image as information

  • Create new referents
  • Femto, things that are created
  • Just showing (camera obscura) not active in the world.

‘The surgeon, the electronics fabricator, or somebody working with toxic materials – they are all using the image to manipulate something. … Images are a part of the primary intervention into the world.  … We are no longer wondering if our representation of the thing matches something out there. Today, more and more, we want images that do things. An evidentiary image is no longer sufficient for many scientists. We want images that help us organize information, that are accessible, that may not be a copy of something “out there” at all.” Galison, p36

‘The image is an integral part of [a] new matrix of power, and I think that we don’t really understand where it is going or what it will become. The searchable, cheap image, the archives of our digital lives – these will, I am sure, transform our way of life and our concepts of power.’ Galison, p39

  • In some ways, it is very creepy how much data is being collected of us without us being aware.

Medical Imagery

  • Has a relationship with touch.
  • Invisible data, have to rely on translation.

Ultrasound

  • Think that we’re looking at a photograph as that’s what we’re used to but it has nothing to do with photography.
  • Further information can be gained from them that we cannot see, it needs to be translated by a professional.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Uses radio frequencies.

Computerised Tomography (CT)

  • Slices of pictures, software combines them.

MRI, ultrasound, and similar images ‘do not conform to practices of sight. This difference signals a radical departure from our photographically informed notions of referentiality and indexicality, which are premised on the visible correspondence and causal connection of image with object.’ Teffer, p123

  • Indexicality: what we see was there.
  • What is produced by these machines has no analogy, between what we see in the image and medical technology are two different things.
  • Invisible information, transferred.
  • Made by computers, not able to do any of these before the computer was invented.

The ‘image’ of a foetus is ‘a phenomenon constituted in the interaction of the object/foetus with the ultrasound apparatus. This phenomenon, rather than the foetus itself, is the referent.’ Teffer124

picture3

  • Doesn’t come out like this.
  • Is an image but not a photograph.
  • Phenomenon is the referent, something that is happening.
  • 3D result of process.

Atomic Force Microscope

  • Study material surfaces
  • Based on physical interactions

picture4

Ontological and epistemological continuity between the photograph and the medical image

Ontological: Of or related to being.

Epistemological: Of or related to knowledge.

No longer rely on images in the same way.

Weaponised Vision

Beginning to think about what we will be dealing with in next week’s lecture.

  • Drones in a military context and the culture of surveillance.

James Bridle

picture5
James Bridle, Drone Shadow, Istanbul, 2012 http://www.flickr.com/photos/stml/sets/72157631741955211/
  • Where a drone has been, ‘drone shadows’.
  • Making the form of surveillance visible.
  • Life size of drone.
picture6
James Bridle, Dronestagram, 2012
  • Estimate of where they have occurred.
  • Not real time, locates the coordinates using Google Earth.
  • Shows the areas before a drone strike because Google Earth doesn’t get updated very often.
  • Ability of drone to distance the act of killing.
  • Moral distance.
  • Mostly illegal killing.
  • Brings the strikes into visibility.
  • Based on data gathering, we can’t see with our eyes.
  • Political project.

The drone … for me, stands in part for the network itself: an invisible, inherently connected technology allowing sight and action at a distance. … But the non-human components of the network are not moral actors, and the same technology that permits civilian technological wonder, … also produces obscurantist ‘security’ culture, ubiquitous surveillance, and robotic killing machines.

This is a result of the network’s inherent illegibility, its tendency towards seamlessness and invisibility, from code to ‘the cloud’. Those who cannot perceive the network cannot act effectively within it, and are powerless. The job, then, is to make things visible.
James Bridle, from Under the Shadow of the Drone, 2012.

 

Essential reading: Lange, Christy (2013). ‘Blurred Visions’, Frieze 155.

 

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