The history of aerial views is closely entangled with the development of aerial means of locomotion which, since the 18th century, have produced new fixed and mobile points of view on the planet. From the first hot-air balloons to contemporary drones, aerial technologies generate an iconography at the crossroads of military, scientific and artistic experimentation. Issue 6 of Transbordeur, coordinated by Claus Gunti and Anne-Katrin Weber, wishes to revisit this history of aerial views by shedding light in particular on its epistemological and political dimension.
We thus use the notion of “vertical image” to underline the power relations that sustain and model it. The vertical image represents and materializes colonial and imperialist domination or military surveillance; it produces knowledge that forges these relations and makes them possible. Conversely, as part of activist resistance, it provides evidence allowing to expose and denounce the violence and illegality of police work. Thus, we would like to use the vertical image to think about the current context marked both by the massive surveillance of populations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent international demonstrations in the name of Black Lives Matter. The events of the past few months have produced countless vertical images, from thermal imaging surveillance cameras to recordings of demonstrators documenting police repression from “below”.