Consumer Off-the-shelf Drones (2024)

The video essay Consumer-off-the-shelf Drones by visual artist Francis Hunger investigates the use of civilian drones as a means of war and propaganda in the current conflict in Ukraine. What is new is that it is no longer only very expensive military equipment that is being used, but cheap consumer drones that were originally developed for YouTubers, influencers and documentary filmmakers.

The video essay examines how influencer aesthetics and operational images, as described by Harun Farocki, overlap. The several chapters  of the 20 min video essay discuss: music, influencers, the „army of drones“, the panoramic view, the top-down view, the first person view, operational images and contents for clicks.

The video screen is divided into a foreground and a background. While aestheticized drone flights referencing influencer worlds are played in the background, the foreground shows a series of war shots taken by drones in the current Russia-Ukraine war. These overlapping image layers make it possible to interweave different narratives, synchronize them or create visual contrasts. In addition, the soundtrack takes elements from YouTube influencers and their music (lo-fi hip-hop, chill-hop, boom-bap, etc.) interspersed with war sounds.