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Extended Flight: The Emergence of Drone Sovereignty

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number27
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture
Issue number27
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Landeyjarsandur, Iceland is a long expanse of black beach stretching down the southern coast of Iceland 1.5 hours southeast of Reykjavik. We took the journey to this place with two Icelandic internet engineers to make a film about how North Atlantic islands are linked by communication networks consisting of fibre-optical cables and cable stations. Landeyjarsandur’s features are largely organic – even the remains of long-abandoned fishing boats and washed up cultural objects seem to have long folded themselves into the environmental matrix. One feature remains distinct however: a small well-fortified building that houses the submarine communications cable landing point between Denmark and Greenland. Part of our methodology was to deploy drones with high-quality videos cameras to follow the cables from the air. However, in taking to the air, we experienced a methodological disjunction, a moment when our expectations and desires as pilots were outstripped by an event. This article, and the accompanying film, is about a situation where our previous experience of autonomy in relationship to the drone–that it listened to us and followed our direction–was replaced, however temporarily, by drone sovereignty, wherein it appeared to have agency in the atmosphere.