Kategorie-Archiv: identifiction

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Ambiguities & Asymmetries

“Ambiguities & Asymmetries”, Review of the SSN Conference, Barcelona, 2014

The bi-annual conference of the Surveillance Studies Network 2014 takes place in the centre of Barcelona, on the campus of the University of Barcelona and the adjoining cultural institution CCCB. This year’s conference’s topic opens the floor to discussions of “Asymmetries and Ambiguities” in Surveillance Studies. The attention for the conference is unusual, not only in academia, as it becomes obvious in the comparably large number of 170 participants, but also in exceptional public and media attention. This surely has to do with the revelations of Edward Snowden and the so-called NSA scandal, which have proved true or surpassed the often dismissed observations of the surveillance studies community. Here especially “asymmetries” come to the fore: between an all-encompassing state-run surveillance assemblage, drawing on private sources, on the one side and disempowered individuals on the other.

In the evening panel discussion (videos available online) with Caspar Bowden (a privacy advocate and former Microsoft executive), Katarzyna Szymielewicz (human rights lawyer, Panoptykon Foundation), and Ben Wizner (Snowden’s lawyer) who is participating via video connection, these asymmetries become apparent. Weiterlesen

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Ambivalent Faces

“Ambivalent Faces: Visual Endeavours of Identification and Typification from 19th Century Science to Today’s Biometric Recognition.”

Presentation at the 6th international Surveillance & Society conference  (23.04.-26.04.2014) hosted by the University of Barcelona and supported by the Surveillance Studies Network.

When in mid-19th century photography entered science as well as criminological and administrative practice it was widely perceived as an objective medium of depiction and was used as a means for identification as well as typification. Not only in visual anthropology, also in criminology, visual types became influential in the description and classification of the human body and face. Weiterlesen

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Außer Kontrolle?

21. März bis 24. August 2014 – “Außer Kontrolle? Leben in einer überwachten Welt” Ausstellung im Museum für Kommunikation Berlin.

“Leben wir sicher, wenn Plätze, Straßen und Gebäude von Videokameras beobachtet werden, wenn Geheimdienste im großen Stil E-Mails scannen? Ist es bequem, wenn uns eine Software vorschlägt, wofür wir uns interessieren sollen? Sind unter diesen Bedingungen Sicherheit und Freiheit vereinbar? Diese hochbrisanten Fragen bilden den Ausgangspunkt für die Ausstellung „Außer Kontrolle? Leben in einer überwachten Welt“. Anhand von 200 Objekten zeigt die Ausstellung, dass Kontrolle nicht einfach das Verhältnis von dunkler Herrschaft zu wehrlosem Untertan ist. Kontrolle ist jede Situation, in der Informationen über einen Menschen gesammelt werden, um ihn zu einem vorbestimmten Handeln zu lenken.” Mit künstlerischen Arbeiten von u.a. Raul Gschrey, Adam Harvey, Chris Oakley.

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Exhibition views, Frankfurt/Main, 2013.

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Mug shots & Burning Caravans

Review of the exhibition „La Traversée“ by Mathieu Pernot in the „Jeu de Paume”, Paris, March 2014.

The exhibition „La Traversée“ by Mathieu Pernot in the “Jeu de Paume”, Paris opens with a wall of photographic portraits: small and large-scale, colour and black and white. The subject of all images is a boy turning into a man over the time, offering glimpses into his life. The portraits of the Roma individual set the tone for an examination of concepts of sedentary and nomadic living life.

Entering the exhibition space, in a niche on the left hand side, a work compiled from historical identification documents, interviews and photographic portraits shows how non-conform, nomadic behavior was restricted through heavy police pressure far into the 20th century. The personal stories and artistic portraits contradict the externally prescribed identity in the signaletic cards and nomadic passes.

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In another work, on an adjoining wall, the historical mug shots and documents are contrasted with a series of photo-machine portraits that the artist produced with the children of the Roma family he is working with since his university days. The self-portraits hint at the ongoing administrative pressure directed against the non-sedentary population.

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This is not restricted to the distant past as a series of large scale photographs of today’s disciplinary institutions, prison yards illustrate. A series of portraits shows family members trying to communicate with the inmates beyond the high walls. These state institutions still extend their influence in an extraordinary manner on the non-sedentary population.

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In the next part of the exhibition, this apparatus of identification and population management meets images of sedentary life in the 20th century, concrete housing structures, their de-individualising character, but also their increasing disappearance as overcome and no longer acceptable spaces for residence.

Photographs of a burning caravan and alighted faces of a group of onlookers terminate this circle of a description of society that goes way beyond the documentary realm. Mathieu Pernot is mixing and composing, comparing and opposing story threats and offers new perspectives on – and readings of – our pre-structured and often unquestioned realities of contemporary life and questionable strategies of upholding this status quo.