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– School of the Arts & Media
Crash Theory: Drones Entangled with Endangered Megafauna
Documentary screening and short talk
Drones crash. These crashes teach us that using drones for conservation is a contingent practice ensnaring humans, technologies, and endangered megafauna. Crashes make these relations evident and reveal the points of friction in the supposed merger of nature and culture.
Humans, drones, and endangered megafauna are relata, or related actants, that intra-act, co-creating their mutually-constituted phenomenon. This phenomenon is described as entangled, with either reciprocal dependencies or erosive entrapments. Crashes are events that lay bare the entwined state of the involved phenomenon. Diffractions, disruptions that expose difference, result from crashes. Crashes produce breakage that call for an ethics of repair. In acts of repair, technologies become involved in the programming of natural worlds. An investigation into crashes provides an aperture into how naturecultures form or dissolve alongside each other.
To support these points, this talk presents three case studies of work with drones, their crashes, or their threat around endangered megafauna. A drone crash in the United Kingdom near white rhinoceroses while building machine learning training data exhibits the involvement of the electromagnetic spectrum, the threat of crashes in the Pacific Northwest near Puget Sound orcas discloses the impacts of drone laws, and drone crashes in Sri Lanka amongst Asian elephants presents the problems of technological repair.
Adam Fish is a Scientia Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Arts and Media. He is a cultural anthropologist, documentary video producer, and interdisciplinary scholar who works across social science, computer engineering, environmental science, and the visual arts. Dr. Fish employs ethnographic, participatory, and creative methods to examine the social, political, and ecological influences of new technologies.
He has authored three books including: Hacker States (2020 MIT Press, with Luca Follis), about how state hacking impacts democracy; Technoliberalism (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), an ethnography of the politics of internet and television convergence in Hollywood and Silicon Valley; and After the Internet (Polity, 2017, with Ramesh Srinivasan), which reimagines the internet from the perspective of grassroots activists, citizens, and hackers on the margins of political and economic power.
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