DIY Aerial Photography -Decolonising the Sky

Our second keynote for our forthcoming Fieldwork Conference (14 November 2018) is Israeli scholar, artist, activist, Hagit Keysar. Over the years, UCLan Photography, and specifically the MA, has developed an identity and community of practice that focuses on the political status of the image. This is echoed through the themes of our previous conferences and our chosen keynotes, but also in our teaching. We have modules dedicated to Socially Engaged Practice, another entitled, Space, Location and Territory,  in addition to a critical module called Visualising the In/Visible. In addition to professional practices options such as the Darkroom module and New-Media Practices, the MA reflects a culture of thinking about society, vision and power that are as important now than ever before.
Power is often aligned vision, specifically scopic range. To be able to see afar, either horizontally or from above afford the viewer strategic power and knowledge. We must now begin to think about verticality with greater rigour, specifically in terms of vision. As the possibilities to engage in verticality becomes more democratised, it opens up greater possibilities for play, participation and activism and a sociology of the sky.
Hagit’s abstract is below, followed by her bio. The photo represents the kit required for a DIY aerial photography workshop.
The technique for producing DIY aerial photography with balloons or kites was developed by Public Lab (, an open-source community that develops tools and methods for community-based environmental investigations. It is based on a camera rig made from a reused plastic bottle, equipped with a simple digital camera that is pointed vertically to the ground and tethered to the kite/balloon string. This technique takes part in a broader practice and discourse termed “civic science”, “community science” or “collaborative science” that concerns the democratization of technoscientific tools and methods through the development of participatory technologies and collaborative practices between scientists and citizens, and citizens and themselves. Its first use traces back to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, where it was (and still is) used for creating evidence of the environmental hazards caused by extractive petrochemical industries. Since the oil spill, the development of the toolkit revealed a network of online and on-the-ground actions, people, issues and experiments who contributed to its dissemination and application in the US and other places around the world.
Hagit lives and works in Israel/Palestine, her research is practice-based and brings together visual work, activism and critical theory. She completed her PhD at the Politics and Government Department, Ben Gurion University, Israel; in her thesis, titled: “Prototyping the Civic View From Above: Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography in Israel-Palestine”, she critically examined the political potential of civic/community science and open-source practices in situations of civic inequalities and human rights violations, focusing on the use of Do-It-Yourself aerial photography techniques. Hagit completed her MA with distinction from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology in the University of Manchester (UK) and BA in Fine Arts from the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design, Jerusalem.

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