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Open Access The light of God: Notes on the visual economy of drones

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This article charts the contemporary aerial military technology of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones, which are used for both surveillance and combat in current ‘overseas contingency operations’. It focuses on the form of techno-visual power that UAVs represent. Drone control screens facilitate the accumulation of data of the patterns of life of populations so as to detect potential future threats, whilst simultaneously acting as key players in pre-emptive strikes. This article explores the striving for spatio-temporal omniscience and omnipotency that animates this particular technology of vision – the drone as a technology of the ‘light of God’.
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Keywords: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle; cartography; power; pre-emption; visuality; war on terror

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dr. Pasi Väliaho is Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies in the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of Biopolitical Screens: Image, Power, and the Neoliberal Brain (MIT Press, 2014) and Mapping the Moving Image: Gesture, Thought and Cinema circa 1900 (Amsterdam University Press, 2010), as well as several journal articles and book chapters. 1

Publication date: September 1, 2014

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  • NECSUS is an international, double-blind peer reviewed journal of media studies connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and published by Amsterdam University Press. The journal is multidisciplinary and strives to bring together the best work in the field of media studies across the humanities and social sciences. We aim to publish research that matters and that improves the understanding of media and culture inside and outside the academic community. Each volume includes feature articles, a special thematic section, a video essay section, and a reviews section that covers books, festivals, and exhibitions. NECSUS is targeted to a broad readership of researchers, lecturers, and students, and will be offered as a biannual open access, online journal.

    The journal is published in Open Access, with the following Creative Commons copyright license: Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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