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Drones At Home’ Exhibition Explores Increasing Use Of Drones By Civilians

Aired 10/24/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUEST

Jordan Crandall, professor and chair of the UC San Diego Visual Arts Department.

Transcript

Artist/Professor Jordan Crandall during a performance of his drone-inspired work, "Unmanned," examines the state of masculinity in a militarized landscape increasingly dependent on automated technology.
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Above: Artist/Professor Jordan Crandall during a performance of his drone-inspired work, "Unmanned," examines the state of masculinity in a militarized landscape increasingly dependent on automated technology.

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are often associated with the military at war—typically to describe planes that are flown remotely from a remote operator. However, drones serve many other purposes beyond combat overseas, and are increasingly being used here in the U.S., from government surveillance, border security operations and search and rescue efforts, to traffic monitoring and livestock tracking.

An art exhibition at UC San Diego looks at the growing usage of drones stateside. "Drones at Home: Phase 3," on view through December 14 at Gallery @ Calit2, explores the "strange allure of drones," including the growth of drone hobbyists and DIY drone-making culture, and the "push for their domestication—by governments, corporations and everyday citizens."

Co-curated by Jordan Crandall, UC San Diego visual arts professor and department chair, "Drones at Home: Phase 3" presents a range of works from a website and videos to projected still images and an actual drone model in the middle of the gallery. There is also a series of "performative workshops," open to the public and led by different artists, which examine different aspects of drone use. Crandall, who has written about drones and whose work includes both art-making (performance art, video) and thoughtful, scholarly writing, is fascinated by drones—what they represent and how they affect us as humans.

"I’m really interested in how we can think about drones as a kind of form that we can think about how it’s reshaping the role and place of the human. What does it foretell about us and our place in the world? And how it affects us in our own space, in our own imaginations," says Crandall.

"In some ways the drone is us," says Crandall. "We think we’re completely in the driver seat but we’re part of networks, we’re remotely operated. We’re embedded systems, we don’t live in isolation especially now because our technologies are becoming such a part of our lives."

For Crandall, drones in all of their myriad forms, represent a "new conscience of technological agency," an extension of the human body and a way for humans to rethink where we are in the world. "We all exist in these kinds of strange spaces when we’re multi-tasking. We’re here, but we're also in other places."

KPBS Midday Edition speaks with Crandall about his fascination with drones, the growing use of drones domestically and the current exhibition at the Gallery @ Calit2.

More information:

Bio: Jordan Crandall

Rhizome.org: "Drone Desire" by Jordan Crandall

Fronteras Desk series: Drones on the U.S.-Mexico Border

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