Drone Futures Seminar 5: Thomas Stubblefield

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A virtual public seminar with Thomas Stubblefield (UMass Darmouth), chaired by Michael Richardson (UNSW).

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Seminar 5: The Ornithology of Drone Art with Thomas Stubblefield.

As a result of the historical reliance of war upon the animal body, modern military technologies such as the drone are haunted by a lingering zoological presence. Of the nonhuman animals that occupy the modern drone perhaps none are as influential as birds. Not only do these creatures offer a means of materializing an enduring connection between flight and surveillance that had occupied the imaginary for centuries, but so too do they introduce an aerial proxy by which a thoroughly modern asymmetry of warfare would come into being. This presentation will discuss the ways in which the video Seagulls (2013) and the #NotABugSplat installation (2014) engage this residual animal presence in order to both excavate alternate histories of the drone and reimagine its practices of targeting.

Thomas Stubblefield is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Media Studies and Interim Associate Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In 2015, his book, 9/11 and the Visual Culture of Disaster (Indiana University Press), was awarded the Rollins Prize. His most recent book, Drone Art: The Everywhere War as Medium (2020), was published by the University of California Press. His essay: “Towards a History of the Medial Regime: Force and the Post-Industrial Female Body” appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Cultural Critique (University of Minnesota Press).

About the Drone Futures series:

Drone Futures brings together leading artists, humanities and social science scholars whose research intersects with the emerging field of drone studies. From the neo-colonial violence of contemporary wars in the Middle East and Africa to the strange histories of unmanned aerial vehicles to activist uses in struggles for justice, this seminar series looks to the past and present to think into the future. By showcasing inter-disciplinary scholarship, it aims to spark new connections and inspire debate about how to build more just drone futures.

Taking place from August through to November 2020, the Drone Futures seminars will be streamed live to YouTube, where participants can converse and post questions through the comments function. Please register your interest in attending this virtual event.

The Drone Futures Seminar Series will culminate in the Drone Cultures Symposium, hosted virtually on the 8-10 of December by the UNSW Media Futures Hub. For a link to a recorded podcast of Drone Futures seminars, as well as information about the other presentations in the seminar series and the upcoming Drone Cultures Symposium, visit the project's website:

The Drone Cultures Symposium is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

Drone Cultures acknowledge and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, particularly the Bedegal, Bidjigal and Gadigal Peoples, and their elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded, and the struggle for justice continues.

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