The Face in Film and Media Art as an Aesthetic Game with Identity and Critique of Security Systems

Duration (2019-2022)

The project that is connected to the ZeMKI-Lab “Film, Media Art and Popular Culture” explores how contemporary photography, film and media art reflect on biometric facial recognition and algorithmically controlled security dispositions. Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Winfried Pauleit and Dr. Rasmus Greiner, the project will analyze different aesthetic ways of appropriating surveillance technologies.
The project examines different (audio-) visual plays with human identity in interaction with network-controlled surveillance technologies to map out explicit criticism of the trend of achieving a complete capture of and control over humans. In the aesthetic reflection and reproduction of monitoring mechanisms, a discomfort about technology that is used for the processing and manageability of people can be expressed.
The aesthetic strategies of different artists are to be read as representations of a "facial society" (Thomas Macho) which primarily act through the recognizability and representation of faces. The portrayal of human identity shifts to medial recorded and edited faces. At the same time, computer-assisted biometric facial recognition technologies are being established, such as those already in use at public places for comparison with detected offenders like at train stations and airports. Based on cultural theory on the representation of the face, the project investigates artistic strategies that deal with facial media representations and their critique of digital security systems.
An illustrative example of this is the photo series spirit is a bone, created in 2013 by the British photographers Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin who used a Russian surveillance technology to generate (phantom) faces. The photographers purposely place their series in the context of the history of photography of capturing the human physiognomy to typify and categorize the external appearance with the aim of the precautionary recognition of offenders.
The human face is supposed to be read as the interface of a multitude of aesthetic and media-specific discourses and conflicts. Perspectively, this project is about creating an interdisciplinary bridge between a culture-historically oriented art and media science and a technology-based information research. The project is made possible by the Central Research Funding (ZF) of the University of Bremen.


: Prof. Dr. Winfried Pauleit
Prof. Dr.

Winfried Pauleit

Institution Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research of the University of Bremen (ZeMKI)

Building/room: GW2 B3930
Phone: +49 (0) 421 218 677 20