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The University of Southampton

Drone Film Theory: The Immanentisation of Kinocentrism Seminar

16:00 - 17:45
14 February 2017
Lecture Theatre B Avenue Campus Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Ruby Cheung at .

Event details

Part of the Film Research Seminar Series 2016 - 2017. All welcome.




As philosopher Grégoire Chamayou (2015) suggests, the drone in some senses is the perfection of war: a flying camera with weapons, it sees all and can strike anywhere, at any time, and with no danger of the loss of human life – for the side operating the machine if not for their opponents. With Paul Virilio (1989) in mind, then, war has become cinema (with some gaming components thrown in for good measure). Or rather, the drone crystalises the cinematic logic – or the kinocentrism – of the contemporary world: total surveillance, the reduction of the other to an image, killing become fun. What is more, through its eradication of the possibility of death (for the side operating it), the drone signals war without risk, perhaps even war without war.

Meanwhile, the use of drones has become increasingly commonplace in cinema, perhaps especially in documentaries. With its connotations of power through surveillance and the verticality of the ‘drone shot’, we might theorise a democratization of cinema – in that ‘anyone’ now can put together a film featuring drone imagery. However, in other senses the drone shot signals an aspiration towards a cinema without risk, created at a distance and with a reduced possibility of loss, or change, for the film’s makers, and by extension its viewers. In this way, the near-omnipresent drone shot signals not cinema at war with itself – what in the spirit of Jacques Rancière (2006) we might characterise as an aesthetic struggle over politics and a political struggle over aesthetics – but a near-total capitulation to the logic of cinema, or the immanentisation of kinocentrism.


Chamayou, Grégoire (2015) Drone Theory (trans. Janet Lloyd), London: Penguin.

Rancière, Jacques (2006) The Politics of Aesthetics (trans. Gabriel Rockhill), London: Continuum.

Virilio, Paul (1989) War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception (trans. Patrick Camiller), London: Verso.

Speaker information

Dr William Brown , University of Roehampton. Dr William Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of Roehampton, London. He is the author of Non-Cinema: Global Digital Filmmaking and the Multitude (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), Supercinema: Film-Philosophy for the Digital Age (Berghahn, 2013), and Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe (with Dina Iordanova and Leshu Torchin, St Andrews Film Studies, 2010). He is also the co-editor of Deleuze and Film (with David Martin-Jones, Edinburgh University Press, 2012). He has published numerous essays in journals and edited collections, and has directed various films, including En Attendant Godard (2009), Circle/Line (2016), Letters to Ariadne (2016) and The Benefit of Doubt (2017).

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