Monstrous Mobilities and Predatory Perspectives: Drone Shots and the Gaze of Monsters in Cinema

  • Zoe Ruth Shacklock (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


Across screen media, the movement profiles of different camera techniques are key to the construction of perspective, emotion, and identification. Yet where the jerky anxiety of hand-held cameras and the smooth confidence of Steadicam are linked with human emotions and embodied experiences, the ‘detached retina’ (Carruthers, 2016) of the drone shot might create something more otherworldly. This paper examines a trend in which drones shots are aligned with the gaze of non-human creatures and monsters. Drawing from Thomas Deane Tucker’s (2021) work on the relationship between camera movement and human locomotion, we argue that the movement profiles of drone shots place us in the mobile perspective of non-human entities. Where Steadicam shots mirror the motion of human walking, drone shots rely on gliding, flying, drifting and darting, all of which are removed from human embodied experience. Consequently, if Steadicam creates what Tucker calls a ‘participatory peripatetic point of view’, then drone shots allow for participation in a decidedly non-human perspective. We also consider how the negative affects associated with drone movement, namely its links to surveillance, warfare and violence, are exploited in the association between drones and the perspective of monstrous creatures. Sabeen Ahmed (2018) argues that the phenomenological experience of living under drone warfare is one of a ‘space of death’; following Ahmed, we argue that the mobile perspective of drones may thus be the movement of death. Aligning drone shots with the gaze of monsters in cinema cements this connection between drones and predation.
Period9 Sept 2022
Event titleDrones in Society: New Visual Aesthetics
Event typeConference
LocationSheffield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational