Visual Communication in Society


Views from the Blue

Views from the Blue

Mermaid Beach, Australia. Taken by Alessio Borriero, 19th February, 2021.

Over the past ten years, the use of commercial uncrafted aerial vehicles, or drones, has increased dramatically. Their 360-degree lens has reperspectivised landscapes, offering new ways of seeing that reshape our geographical imaginations and understanding of the world.

Despite their potential to change human perception and create new visual patterns that we are not conventionally used to seeing, debates on drones remain centred around their negative associations with safety, security and privacy.

This digital exhibition seeks to encourage a reappraisal of drones as instruments of surveillance and warfare by showcasing drone visuals produced by amateur drone users and shared on social media platforms. By shining a spotlight on their aesthetic, textual and semiotic characteristics, it aims to encourage viewers to reflect on how drones have created new ways of visualising and embodying our world, acting as intermediaries between humans and nature.

The exhibition forms part of the AHRC-funded project Drones in Visual Culture: Developing a New Theory of Visual Mobile Communication, which aims to understand how drone visuals (images and videos) are circulated, where they are shared and by whom, how they are received by the general public and whether and how the use of drone technology in society is changing the way people see the world. The new knowledge generated by this research has the potential to develop the fields of visual communication, culture studies, internet studies and digital/mobile media studies by extending and innovating current theoretical understandings of and approaches to visual mobile communication.

Project contact details

Principal Investigator: Dr Elisa Serafinelli

Research Associate: Dr Lauren Alex O’Hagan

University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN

This study has been approved by the University of Sheffield ethics committee.

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