Project Daedalus is an exciting new research & development collaboration between Abandon Normal Devices (AND), Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF), and the University of Salford (UoS).

The project is funded by NESTA, the AHRC and Arts Council England, within their £7m Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, aimed at supporting collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. The fund supports projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector. The project runs from October 2014 to September 2015.


Project Daedalus explores the creative potential of using quadroter technology (drones) in a cultural context, creating multi-user experiences and new audience environments to expand the geographical and interactive possibilities for audiences to engage in the arts. The project

The latest quadrotors developed by DJI have integrated cameras that capture high quality video footage and photographs that can be controlled remotely by mobile devices, allowing us to share content in real-time. Using augmented reality (AR), computer-generated graphics (CGI) and custom software to build interactive applications, Project Daedalus will test non-linear storytelling, creating interactive environments, which allow audiences to engage remotely, share and create content in new ways. This learning will inform an open source digital toolkit, enabling other organisations to understand how quadroters can revolutionise audience engagement.

The research underpinning the project will develop insights into the collaboration between the arts and technology partners, engage digitally disempowered users around possible uses of this technology, alongside evaluating user experiences with quadcopters, as tools for participation in live events. These findings will be situated within a cultural and political history of related “science fiction” texts, which have imagined the future of autonomous, flying machines.

10 new datasets will be captured during the project research phases

Phase 1) A Techno-Political History of the Moving Image

1. Literature review of the political history of media innovation in film.

2. Content/discourse analysis of the promotional campaigns by quadcopter developers.

3. Literature review of how science fiction has imagined the use of semi-autonomous flying machines.

Phase 2) Collaborative Design Interactions

4. Workshop with students from the Royal College of Art MA in Design Interactions programme.

5. Sandpit events with with 3 digitally disempowered groups.

6. Document the collaboration between the art and technology project partners.

Phase 3) Developing the Audience Auteur

7. Pre-delivery phase social media dataset.

8. Delivery phase data from social media, correlated with locative quadcopter data.

Additional data will be derived from the testing the devices:

9. Data on the quadcopter’s performance in a variety of environments.

10. Qualitative data on the challenges with the audience interface using quadcopters.

Evidence & findings aim to:

A. Contribute to the project’s intellectual development,

B. Build a greater understanding of arts and technology collaborations

C. Assess how research participants can be nurtured within participatory arts practices, while assessing their engagement as audience via social media data related to the devices

Impact on arts organisations’ digital strategies

Project Daedalus will introduce a new ways of creating and distributing live content to audiences, which will open up new possibilities for audience engagement, particularly remotely. Also, assessing the relationship between the arts and technology partners, Project Daedalus will provide learning that could shape how arts organisation innovate and work with technology partners. Finally, by analysing participation data within social media, it will provide insights on how to do this effectively testing new platforms.