Visual Communication in Society

Drones in Society: New Visual Aesthetics

8th and 9th September 2022, Halifax Hall, Sheffield, UK

Register here:

Photo by Maxim Tarasov
Photo by Maxim Tarasov

Drones are an increasingly important social phenomenon. Their use has the potential to change the way people see the world in the same way other technologies have, like smartphones and the internet. Generating questions that go beyond safety and security issues, their widespread use opens new debates on the relationship between media and mobility (Hildebrand, 2021), material practice (Howley, 2017), and vertical power (Kaplan, 2018). Drones are the latest technological advancement to have a significant impact in the world we live in, offering opportunities for new forms of visual communication, culture and practices.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Julia M. Hildebrand, Assistant Professor of Communication at Eckerd College, author of Aerial Play: Drone Medium, Mobility, Communication, and Culture – Geographies of Media.

We invite the submission of proposals for an interdisciplinary conference on these topics, ‘Drones in Society: New Visual Aesthetics’, which will be held on 8th and 9th September at Halifax Hall in Sheffield, UK.  This 2-day conference will be hosted by the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield. The deadline for submission is 9th of May 2022.

The conference is concerned with the role of drones in society and the way in which they are contributing to new visual aesthetics.

The conference invites interdisciplinary research, reflection and critique on topics including (but not limited to) the following:         

–          People’s perspectives on drones (and their data): surveillance, ethics and privacy issues in domestic and commercial uses.

–          New visual perspectives: the creation of new visual content (drone art and amateur uses).

–          Drone regulations: potential gaps in regulating domestic and commercial drones, future perspectives.

–          Current uses and future applications: the implementation of drones in society.

–          Drones and vertical power: the uses of drones in war zones, activism and humanitarian activities.

Proposed formats:      
– Individually submitted papers (organised into panels by the DiS committee)     
– Panels (3-4 individual papers)           
– Roundtable discussions (led by one of the presenters)       
– Visual posters

Abstracts between 300-500 words in Word format must be submitted to by 9th of May 2022. You will be notified of the decision by 13th of June 2022.

Conference proceedings and selected papers will be published in a section of the forthcoming book Vision and Verticality (Palgrave), edited by Gary Bratchford and Dennis Zuev.

Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to visit a drone visuals exhibition held on the evening of 8th September and participate in a workshop with two drone artists on 9th September.

Conference organised by Elisa Serafinelli and Lauren Alex O’Hagan, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Register here:


Hildebrand J. (2021): Aerial Play: Drone Medium, Mobility, Communication, and Culture. Singapore: Palgrave Mcmillan

Howley K. (2017): Drones: Media Discourse and the Public Imagination. New York: Peter Lang.

Kaplan C. (2018): Aerial Aftermaths: Wartime from Above. Durham: Duke University Press.