War of Images by Other Means

By: Raffaele Pavoni  

Facing increasing pervasiveness of images in contemporary media ecosystem, that seem to change the relation between our online and offline lives, visual studies have often actively reacted, dealing with subjects such as the cloning of images and its destabilizing consequences (Mitchell, 2011), the role of photography in a contemporary warfare frame (Eder, Klonk, 2016), or the politics and the relevance of visual studies themselves, in relation to these topics (Elkins, Frank, Manghani, 2015). Effectively, our scopic regime, intended as a cultural and historical way of seeing (Jay, 1994), is strongly affected by this pervasiveness. The drone, to this extent, is a paradigmatic object, as it “embodies most of the qualities of the net. It sees at distance, acts at distance, and it’s invisible” (Bridle, Blum, 2013). In this sense, as Mirzoeff points out, the so-called ambition to visualise fields, a military practice subsequently extended to the civic domain, is nothing but a prosecution of the war of images with other means (2015). Unsurprisingly, several anti-drone technologies have emerged, in the past few years, echoing military actions both in strategies and equipment. The current essay analyses this conflict, through the abovementioned concepts, comparing the technical features of these objects and their promotional strategy. This clash, as I argue, has to be intended both literally and physically, as something intrinsic to digital images themselves, and to the military origin of technologies that allow their production and consumption.

Drone, War Of Images, Visual Studies, Image Spread, Privacy
Media Technologies
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Raffaele Pavoni

PhD, SAGAS Storia Archeologia Geografia Arte e Spettacolo, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Raffaele Pavoni earned a PhD in Storia delle Arti e dello Spettacolo, at the University of Florence. The topic of his doctoral research is Italian music videos contemporary production and consumption. In his work, based on ethnographic analysis and market data, he tried to draw the actual institutional framework of music videos, and to understand how their transition to the web has changed the relation between audience, directors, music labels and software houses. Actually, he is studying the representations and self-representations of migrants in the old and new media, with a research project that intertwines film studies and visual anthropology.