Interrogating Media Devices: Mark Andrejevic’s public lecture ‘Drone Theory’

Professor Mark Andrejevic’s George Watson examined the figure and logic of the drone in our current cultural and political climate.

Alex Rivera has described the figure of the drone as “an incandescent reflection, the most extreme expression of who we are and what we’ve become generally,” as a way of describing the contemporary preoccupation with the figure of the drone. What might it mean to describe the emerging logics of “becoming drones”, and what might such a description have to say about the changing face of interactivity in the digital era? This presentation treats the figure of the drone as an avatar for the interface of emerging forms of automated data capture, sense making, and response. Understood in this way, the figure of the drone can be mobilized to consider the ways in which automated data collection reconfigures a range of sites of struggle — after all, it is a figure born of armed conflict, but with roots in remote sensing (and action at a distance). This presentation draws on recent case studies to develop a theoretical approach to the fascination of the figure of the drone while also exploring (and critiquing) theoretical approaches that replicate drone logic. 

The public lecture was part of Professor Mark Andrejevic’s visit to the School of Communication and Arts in July 2016. The visit was part of the George Watson Fellowship. The School of Communication and Arts was bestowed this bequest in 1978 by Mrs. L. Watson, in honour of her son George Watson.

Over the past decade or more Professor Andrejevic has made a number of original critical interventions in the field of media and cultural studies.

His early work on the forms of participation, monitoring and exploitation characteristic of the emerging interactive economy have animated critical debate in the field in many useful ways. His arguments about the work of being watched, savvy subjects, the digital enclosure and infoglut have contributed to a critical account of the logics, power relations and infrastructure of the interactive era.


Mark Andrejevic Media Devices Symposium - Drone Theory from UQ Journalism & Communication on Vimeo.


About George Watson Fellowship Events

The 2016 George Watson Visiting Fellow is Professor Mark Andrejevic from Pomona College, USA.

During his visit, Professor Mark Andrejevic will deliver a masterclass for RHD students as well as a public lecture.

Mark Andrejevic’s biography

Mark’s work on surveillance and interactivity is widely read. For over a decade he has advanced critical debate about the logics of watching, being watched, and prediction that are central to the media system emerging around us.

He is the author of several original and widely read books in the field. Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (2004) applies critical theory to the example of reality TV to explore the changing character and portrayal of surveillance in the digital era. iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era (2007) examines the deployment of interactive media for monitoring and surveillance in the realms of popular culture, marketing, politics, and war. Infoglut: How Too Much Information Is Changing the Way We Think and Know, explores the social, cultural, and theoretical implications of data mining and predictive analytics.

 Mark’s current project and forthcoming book explores the logic of automated surveillance, sensing, and response associated with drones.




Level 2, Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)
Room 224