Science fiction directs how cyberculture is understood, it does not attempt to predict the future but reflects the now as today’s society is virtual. Technology is overtaking our lives whether we like it or not.
Drones have been conversation starters since they became available to purchase within the public. They previously were only associated with military operations and hush-hush government surveillance. They were born into the tech world with no creative intention. However, drones today are commonly used by photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, and artists. Artist, James Bridle states, “One way of looking at drones is as a natural extension of the internet” he continues to explain, “in terms of allowing sight and vision at a distance.”
With the growth of technology, surveillance has increased. Drones are devices often used to spy on individuals and the public. Artists work to spread awareness of this through art and ironically the inclusion of drones. Drones no longer have a singular connotation of fear but are now seen positively through art. Artists continue to incorporate technology into their practice to enhance their audience’s experience.
The Wall Street Journal documented a preview of a month-long exhibition called ‘First Person View’ at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens. This exhibition allows the public to fly drones within the art space. One’s perspective is heightened by the limitless nature of being a drone, you can go into small spaces, fly high and observe from above. In the act of becoming a drone, attendees are given the opportunity to enhance their experience through technology. Drones offer artists a greater perspective, literally and figuratively. They educate you on the possibilities that come with technology advancements. Co-curator, Vanessa Thill says the intention was to make “the human eye not the primary viewer.”
Artists commentate on their social and political surroundings in an effort to make sense of the world and push for positive change. Like art, science fiction “expresses cultural anxieties and desires through a set of concepts, tropes and themes.”
Rajeev Basu’s “Drones of New York” establishes a positive notion of drone technology by collaborating with artists to turn the drones themselves into art as they observe New York citizens on their day-to-day. Ai Weiwei, well-known artist and activist uses drones as a part of his exhibition with Park Avenue Armory in New York to show the public the seriousness of surveillance in today’s world. Weiwei, alongside Jacques Herzog and Pierre De Meuron showcase the reality of going virtual as public surveillance increases. The exhibition, ‘Hansel and Gretel’ made attendees feel “very uneasy, unsettling. I think we take for granted that we’re always constantly being watched…all the information that we give out is being tracked in some way or another.”
The drones themselves are also the artists as they begin to hold the paintbrush. I want to explore the potential for drones to be directed by artists or people interested in developing that new relationship, whether it be by experimenting with a drone’s ability to step into the role as an artist or research how drones are becoming art themselves. Technology and art are not ‘new friends’ but continue to evolve both separately and in sync. Museums and art spaces are beginning to establish the presence of drones and more advanced technology as they compete with the virtual world that is today.
The following clip shows a drone as an artist, painting dots which ultimately translate into portraits. Using software, the drone can be shown the pattern of the eventual portrait, hence the drone can create portraits. Can a drone become the next Da Vinci? Picasso? Frida Kahlo? Will artificial intelligence evolve so much so that we are eliminated, creatively? These questions begin to formulate when you see a drone transform into an artist. Although, the drones do have to be directed in order to become creators; artists; painters themselves. They need us?
Art is always advancing as is technology. The two are great interests of mine, thus why I want to delve into art where drone technology is present. I intend to research further, establishing what it means to be an artist in this world driven by technology and the idea of being online. Can a drone be an artist?
- Davies-Crook, S. 2014, “Art in the Drone Age” Dazed Magazine, <http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/16183/1/art-in-the-drone-age> viewed 15 March 2018
- Birchall, D. Ridge, M. 2014, “Post web technology: What comes next for museums?” The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2014/oct/03/post-web-technology-museums-virtual-reality> viewed 15 March 2018
- Clifton, J. 2013, “Rajeev Basu Makes Evil Surveillance Drones Look Pretty” VICE, <https://www.vice.com/sv/article/vdn9m9/rajeev-basu-makes-evil-surveillance-drones-look-pretty> viewed 15 March 2018