Thursday, August 18

In the Latest Bout of Technology Meets Art, Drones Become a Medium for Photography

Drones are typically associated with military invasions. But can they be used for something more innocent — artwork? Two military aviators who work with drones had the idea to use their machines to take photographs that no human would be able to capture.

Their remote-controlled aerial devices were able to create unique shots. One of their photos, “Lost” — which features a woman walking alone along sand dunes — won an aerial photography prize. The prize made them think that their work might be more than just a passing hobby. “We realized that some of the stuff we were creating was really, really aesthetically pleasing,” said one pilot.

Right now, the pilots only wish to be known by their pseudonym, DroneArt31 — since they are still in the military, security is a likely concern. This week begins their first art show in Long Beach, which will run from June until July. Not surprisingly, the project has gained a certain amount of notoriety, including critics.

Another art movement, known as the project #NotABugSplat, is taking the opposite approach — instead of taking images from drones, they instead place large art displays where drones are likely to see them — that is, the pilot watching from the terminal will see them. The latest art display, according to Vice, is a photograph of a young girl who was, the project says, orphaned by drone strikes. It was laid out in Northern Pakistan. The piece is largely intended to be symbolic — the real audience of the piece are those viewing it online.

The drone team of DroneArt31 do not address political messages or controversies in their work — instead, the pair have said that they enjoy exploring the idea of privacy. As LA Weekly says of their photos, which often feature scantily-clad women in empty landscapes, “It’s hard to ignore the predatory feelings these photos elicit.” Perhaps that is the point. The artists seem hopeful for the future of their art. “We have yet to see anyone else trying to [use drones] to create art, and we hope it turns out to be something amazing that will spark that conversation and debate,” they have said.

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