Doctoral Students

Donald Weber
Started in

Research summary

The Mechanical Sky

Technologies of power have created a radically altered sky. Society is securitized and surveilled, structured and reconfigured in the service of militarism, enveloping the Earth’s crust within an atmospheric topography of enclosure. The US military has a word for it: full spectrum dominance.

Filled with floating technologies, this volumetric space is an entangled convergence of airspace, data space, surveillance, and martial force. Images, in their production and usage, are active contributors to this infrastructure of vision and security. The creation of imagery is now outsourced to airborne machines and other non-human technologies. The camera is omnipresent, re-structuring the ways we see, and understand, the world around us.

In what ways can a photographic practice act as a means to confront, or even undo, the various material properties of atmospheric enclosure that so clearly put our relationship with our environment under pressure? Is it possible to devise a set of critical and artistic strategies to comprehend the ways in which the sky structures life under the state?

This research project looks at the sky as a new kind of landscape that is politically and technologically mediated by a totalizing, global view – one that is now essential to our life on Earth. It aims to help understand the historical moment we are living in, and simultaneously explores what photography has become, and what it may become.



Prior to photography, Donald Weber (1973, CA) was educated at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and worked as an architect with Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Weber is the author of four photography books. Interrogations is included in Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s seminal ‘The Photobook: A History, Volume III.’ He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize, the Duke and Duchess of York Prize, two World Press Photo Awards, and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Photography Prize.

His diverse photography projects have been exhibited as installations, exhibitions and screenings worldwide including the United Nations, Museum of the Army at Les Invalides in Paris, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. Weber serves on the photography faculty at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague.


Individual projects

    • Contemporary Photography

      Donald Weber is named Associate Professor of Contemporary Photography at Aalto University, Finland. Starting in February 2023, he will be working in Aalto's…

      Aalto University, Aalto (FI)
    • The Information Front

      The Information Front is a publishing initiative started by Donald Weber and two colleagues to support Ukrainian photography and photographers. Already publishing two…

    • Dirty Pictures

      Donald Weber publishes the article 'Dirty pictures: Rupturing the common picture of globalisation' in Trigger, a platform for research, reflection, and debate on…

      Trigger, FOMU, Antwerp (BE)
    • The geography of our geography

      Donald Weber publishes the article 'The geography of our geography: counter-mapping infrastructures of power' in 'Digital War', a journal about the meaning of…