Liam Young, 27 09 16

Directed by speculative architect Liam Young and written by fiction author Tim Maughan, In the Robot Skies is the world’s first narrative shot entirely through autonomous pre programmed drones. In collaboration with the Embedded and Artificially intelligent Vision Lab in Belgium the film is captured by a specially developed flock of camera drones each with their own set of cinematic rules and behaviours.

The film explores the drone as a cultural object, not just as a new instrument of visual story telling but also as the catalyst for a new collection of urban sub cultures. In the way the New York subway car of the 80’s gave birth to a youth culture of wild style graffiti and hip hop the age of ubiquitous drones as smart city infrastructure will create a new network of surveillance activists and drone hackers. From the eyes of the drones we see two teenagers each held by police order within the digital confines of their own council estate tower block in London. A network of drones survey the council estates, as a roving flock off cctv cameras and our two characters are kept apart by this autonomous aerial infrastructure. We watch as they pass notes to each other via their own hacked and decorated drone, like kids in an old fashioned classroom, scribbling messages with biro on paper, balling it up and stowing it in their drones.. In this near future city drones form both agents of state surveillance but also become co-opted as the aerial vehicles through which two teens fall in love.



Liam Young, 25 07 14

Musician John Cale and Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young have joined forces with digital artists FIELD to develop a new interactive, digital work for BBC’s The Space.

For nearly 50 years, John Cale has thrived at the vanguard of a myriad of creative disciplines, from setting the stage for an underground, noise-bending attack on rock and roll with the Velvet Underground, to his current genre-bending music of today. In his urban futures practise Liam Young has been telling stories about the possibilities of drone technologies in the near future city. Typically associated with militarised applications, Young repurposes his collection of choreographed flying machines as both disembodied instruments and nomadic audio infrastructure, to create an immersive live music performance and visual spectacle.

Known for experimenting with technologies and industrial sounds in his music, Cale once tuned his instruments to the hum of refrigerator motors, the frequency of modernisation. For this new commission he joins forces with speculative architect and storyteller Liam Young to explore the soundscape of a new generation, the distant rumble of drone propellers for a digital landscape and a live performance for the barbican centre.

For The Space Cale and Young have joined forces with digital artists FIELD, who have developed an interactive digital landscape enjoyed as an online experience of the project. FIELD creates expressive audio-visual artworks – from digital paintings to high-end visual effects and generative design across all media, always looking for the drama in the code. Charting the story of a lost drone drifting through an abstract vertical cityscape, players are invited to pilot a virtual craft and remotely explore this imaginary world. The machine vision of the drone reduces the city to pure geometry as flightpath algorithms plot courses along the narrow streets. Samples from Cale’s original soundscape compositions echo across the landscape and we see the city through the eyes of the drone, buzzing between the buildings, drifting endlessly, in an ambient audio visual choreography.

You can read more about the live performance of the project here.

City of Drones is on display now at Digital Revolution – the Barbican’s immersive exhibition of art, design, film, music and videogames and Transmissions for the Drone Orchestra Performance is live at the Barbican Theatre on 11 & 12 September. You can book tickets here.