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Exploring drone agency: sensing, data assemblages & interaction 
Susanne Oechsner (University of Klagenfurt)
Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda (University of Klagenfurt)
Matthias Wieser (University of Klagenfurt)
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Susanne Oechsner (University of Klagenfurt)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

What makes drones act? What complex interplay of heterogeneous actors and data shapes drone agency? We invite contributions that explore drone interaction and agency in different use contexts and communities of practice, and that investigate sensing, datafication, visualization, automation and more.

Long Abstract:

In recent years, we have witnessed the proliferation of engagement with drones, in their development and deployment as well as in the critical reflection of drone imaginaries (e.g. Graae & Maurer, 2021; Grewal, 2017), their visual and sensory regimes (e.g. Gregory, 2011; Wilke, 2017; Parks, 2014; Agostinho et al., 2020) and the at times violent lived experience of being in their scope (e.g. Gregory 2017; Wall & Monahan 2011). As a sociotechnology of (in)security (Suchman et al. 2017), drones have had a sustained presence in warfare, policing and surveillance, and increasingly in conservation, agriculture, environmental monitoring, disaster relief, humanitarian aid, activism and cultural production (Fish & Richardson 2022).

Drones as sensing and data-processing technologies produce multiple and heterogeneous sensory data from interactions between drones, humans and the environment. In this panel we want to focus on drone interaction and agency in different use contexts. We invite theoretical as well as empirical contributions to discuss what allows drones to take on the role of agents, how this role is sustained, and what its effects are: What makes drones act? What complex interplay of heterogeneous actors and data shapes drone agency in different use contexts?

Contributions to the panel will be invited to ask questions related to areas of investigation such as:

- Production: What data are produced in certain situations of interaction? What is represented, amplified, and (in)visibilized and how?

- Learning: How do drones learn from data how to act? How do they become attuned to other actors in the environment? How can drone agency become and remain transparent to humans?

- Circulation: Where does drone data move and into what practices does it get integrated? How does it create value and for what communities of practice? How is data made useful for further drone development?

Accepted papers:

Session 1