Unequal Scenes uses a drone to illustrate the inscribed history of our world in a new way. The scars within our urban fabric, so apparent from above, can provoke a sense of surprise…But also reveal our complicity in systematic disenfranchisement.
We live within neighborhoods and participate in economies that reinforce inequality. We habituate ourselves with routines and take for granted the built environment of our cities. We’re shocked seeing tin shacks and dilapidated buildings hemmed into neat rows, bounded by the fences, roads, and parks of the wealthiest few.
But it’s the very scale and unerring regularity across geographic regions which points to the systemic nature of inequality. This is not organic – this is planned and intentional disenfranchisement.
By placing a non-human photographic actor – in this case, a remote-controlled drone – above these liminal spaces, a new vantage point is reached, previously reserved for the government and the very rich. The drone distances the photographer and the viewer of the photograph, both physically and mentally, and provokes an analysis of the distant gaze. It forces us to confront the ethics of representation, and the limitations (and freedom) of using technology in image-making.
Make no mistake – Unequal Scenes is an act of defiance. I defy the traditional power structures that keep these inequalities hidden so well from every direction except directly above. If the images provoke uncomfortable feelings of fear, despair, or an unsettling realization of complicity – good. They are intended to.
(Johnny Miller - Cape Town, South Africa, June 2018)
About the Photographer
Johnny Miller is a photographer and multimedia storyteller based in South Africa and the USA. He is interested in exploring social justice issues from the ground and from the air.
His photographic project Unequal Scenes has garnered widespread praise and been featured in many of the world’s top publications.
He is currently a Senior Fellow at Code For Africa, a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics, and a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader.
Johnny is also the co-founder of africanDRONE, a pan-African organization committed to using drones for good. He attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, USA, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.