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Title: Ecological intimacy and unmanned photography: drones, GoPros, and satellites
Authors: Burton, Aaron
Keywords: drones
unmanned photography
social documentary
science communication
ecological intimacy
Issue Date: 18-Oct-2017
Abstract: 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the first complete colour photograph of the Earth. The American ATS-III weather satellite was tasked with transmitting images for weather forecasters to look for extreme events and learn more about cloud formations. In 1968 Stewart Brand's The Whole Earth Catalogue was born with the photograph of Earth as its iconic cover, highlighting the fragility if our planet. The following two editions of the catalogue featured the now more famous 'Earthrise' image taken by William Anders of the Apollo 8 mission. These two images represent two divergent perspectives - the first produced by a machine, the second, mimicking a human perspective that would continue to dominate visual representation for the next half a century. The late 1960s, and the beginning of postmodernism, was significant to environmental movements, visual culture, and civil rights. Social documentary played a significant role in understanding difference and breaking down oppressive social norms. Images by Diane Arbus for example celebrated the fringe dwellers of society. Documentary films took us behind the scenes of life itself, with productions like the Salesman (1967) by the Maysles Brothers or Frederick Wiseman's damming documentation of patient-inmate treatment in Titicut Follies (1967). New compact and mobile imaging technologies were offering intimacy through a closer perspective. What has been neglected over the last five decades, however, is how to represent nature. This paper explores the potential of extracorporeal photographic technologies such as drones, GoPros, and satellite imagery to assist a non-anthropocentric understanding of the environment and urgent ecological issues.
Description: Biography: Dr Aaron Burton currently lectures in Media Arts at the University of Wollongong. Burton's doctoral thesis ‘Provenance in Personal Documentary: My Mother's Village’ (2014) draws on the disciplines of photography, film, ethnography, and contemporary art. The feature length documentary film produced as the creative component to his PhD has screened internationally and is distributed through Ronin Films. Burton has wide-ranging industry experience in filmmaking and photography. His creative media-arts practice includes numerous prizes and exhibitions, such as; 2012 Colombo Art Biennale, Hatched 07 National Graduate Show (PICA), Brisbane Airport Fresh Cut 2009 (IMA), and the inaugural Jeremy Hynes Award 2009 (IMA). Research interests include the role of provenance in contemporary art, recasting science communication, and merging experimental ethnography with personal documentary - manifesting in the film Sunset Ethnography (2014) with professors Michael Taussig and Stephen Muecke.
Appears in Collections:1. Re:Trace Conference - Keynotes, Papers & Posters

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