Public Engagement

General Public

Confounding Expectations Series: Drones and Aerial Photography

Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, Room I-202, New York, NY 10011

This panel discussion is part of the Confounding Expectations series organized by full-time faculty in Parsons School of Art, Media, and Technology; Arthur Ou, in conjunction with Bard College's Center for the Study of the Drone project; the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and the Aperture Foundation.

In Eyes in the Sky: The History of the Aerial Perspective, historian Paula Amad, artist Raphaël Dallaporta, and scholar Laura Kurgan will discuss the past and present of aerial photography. Approaching the issue from the perspective of historian, practitioner, and contemporary observer respectively, Amad, Dallaporta, and Kurgan will reflect on the poetics and problematics of the aerial image.

Set against a wealth of aerial images, the event will challenge the audience to consider how the aerial perspective has become entwined with surveillant power and, by extension, violence and fear, even though it also enables new, sympathetic ways of seeing and understanding.

Paula Amad is an associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Counter-Archive: Film, the Everyday and Albert Kahn's Archives de la Planète (2010) and numerous articles, which have appeared in History of Photography, Cinema Journal, Film History, Camera Obscura, and Framework, among other journals. She is currently writing a book focused on an alternative history of modern aerial vision across photography and film, for which she has done extensive research in archives across Europe and the United States.

Raphaël Dallaporta is a documentary photographer. He is concerned with public issues addressing human rights, as well as more symbolic subjects such as the fragility of life. His long-term projects, which combine text and images, are a product of his collaborations with professionals from a wide range of fields. Dallaporta uses an aerial drone equipped with a camera to capture aerial images of his subjects.

Laura Kurgan is an associate professor of architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. She is director of the Visual Studies curriculum and the Spatial Information Design Lab, and is co-director of the Advanced Data Visualization Project. Kurgan is the author of Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics (2013). Her work explores digital mapping technologies, ethics and politics of mapping, and the visualization of big and small data.

Image caption:

Raphaël Dallaporta, Ruins (season 1), 2011,  47.24 x 59 in.

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


Vera List Center for Art and Politics


Art and Design


School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons School of Design, Schools of Public Engagement


Free; No tickets or reservations required.

Admin Notes

Approved PT - this is co-sponsored by VLC and Parsons

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By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.