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Cultures of Surveillance

September 30, 2011


This week I’m in London for the Cultures of Surveillance conference at University College London, organized by The Autopsies Research Group. We are housed at the Anatomy Building, which shares its lobby with the preserved corpse of Jeremy Bentham. My paper, ‘The Face Value: Simulacra and Surveillance of the Covered Face in the Age of Hypervisibility’ meets at the intersection of axiology (aesthetic value and ethics) and surveillance (the assertion of the panoptic right to look as a means of social and political control). Here’s a very brief abstract:

The study of surveillance has largely relied on viewing spatial relations through the panoptic right to look. Yet this perspective is unable to account for the covered face which encloses itself as a private space of no trespassing, refusing to be seen or signified. The physiognomy of the face confers particularity and the representation of a singular self. If the covered face, which watches without allowing watching, conveys a ‘terrible power’ as Deleuze remarked, does it follow that there is such a thing as a face value? This paper argues that there is.

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