(edited by) Joerg Bader – Rob van Leijsen: The Drone Chronicles 2001–2016


Spector Books OHG, ISBN-13: 978-3959053105, English, 784 pages, 2019, Germany

Drone images have rapidly introduced a substantial perspectival gap into our already overwhelmed visual faculties. This is the most spectacular change we have experienced through these machines, but it is only part of the story. Drones, i.e. “unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)”, are historically either used to carrying missiles or good quality cameras. But their cultural and social impact have yet to be fully evaluated. This work is divided into two complementary volumes and van Leijsen appropriately affirms that they constitute a ’diptych’. In the first, drone history is mapped in a ‘journal’, which, after a few short guest texts, reproduces a curated collection of integral news pieces from major media outlets, all provoking underlying ethical questions, and a selection of black and white documentary photographs. The second is a painstakingly compiled catalogue of all the commercial and military models produced in the ‘capitalist world’ (30% of all models manufactured worldwide), during 2001-2016 with all relevant data and manufacturers compiled in a kind of ‘atlas’. The combination of content and design makes for an exquisite work, both archival and easy to navigate or browse. It be simultaneously considered as an ethical research project, a technical documentation, and an artists’ publication.