Seeing as Un/Making: Photogrammetry as a techno-feminist practice of counter-mapping

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

Photogrammetry is the digital process of constructing 3d models from visual information extracted from 2d images. The most familiar deployment of this technique would probably be via Google Earth and the cartographic construction of realistic 3d environments, made possible with satellite images and aerial photography. The disciplines of archaeology and heritage visualisation have also adopted the use of photogrammetry in the investigation of cultural artefacts and architecture. In these contexts, photogrammetry has been heralded for its capacity to digitally preserve artefacts under threat and give new audiences access to cultural experiences via digital 'twins'. However, such practices are not without controversies, with arguments that photogrammetry is insufficient in its claims of authenticity, but more significantly are assertions that photogrammetry enacts and sustains regimes of digital colonialism (Khunti 2018) and capitalist extractivism (Loder 2021).

Outside the institutional deployment of photogrammetry, a new generation of artists and activists have appropriated the digital imaging technique as a creative practice, producing 3d artefacts and digital experiences from both video and non-contiguous datasets of images that document a variety of spaces and environments. These activities, such as multidisciplinary artist Ibiye Camp's 'Data: The New Black Gold' (2019) which examines the data economy of West Africa, have the capacity to critically address the means of their own production, to challenge and reconfigure the regimes of digital extractivism that underpins and is performed through photogrammetry.

This paper will present a number of artists projects, to propose and investigate these as activist strategies of 'counter-mapping' (Peluso 1995) to resist the structures of power and inequality implemented under digital extractivism. Contextualised as a feminist appropriation of technology, this contemporary development of digital counter-mapping will be further located under the discourse of new materialism, where intersectional 'ethico-onto-epistemologies' to resist patriarchal colonialism emerge through the 'intra-action' (Barad 2007) of instrument and subject. This practice-based research investigation will interrogate practices of capturing data and the types of datasets being secured, as well as an attention towards the insufficiencies and potential biases which are embedded in the technological procedure, to propose photogrammetric imaging as a strategy for decolonisation, or 'seeing as un/making'.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022
EventCounter-Image International Conference 2022 – Decolonizing Visuality - NOVA University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 13 Jul 202215 Jul 2022


ConferenceCounter-Image International Conference 2022 – Decolonizing Visuality

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • photogrammetry
  • counter-mapping
  • extractivism
  • techno-feminism
  • new materialism


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