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Quantities Over Qualities

Metric and Narrative Identities in Dataveillant Art Practice

Amy Christmas

In a society suffused with surveillance technologies and practices, which persist in their extension across and into all dimensions of human experience, members of the contemporary art community have made significant contributions to the ontology of the surveillant self. This article compares recent works by several prominent multimedia artists who have explored the radical potential of dataveillance as a way to bridge the disconnect between quantitative (metric) and qualitative (narrative) representations of self in the Information Age. By considering the questions raised by three recent art projects—Hasan Elahi’s Tracking Transience; Jill Magid’s Composite; Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Stranger Visions—I explore how each artist employs a surveillant aesthetic to test the extent to which meaningful subjectivities may be constructed out of decontextualized metric data. In this way, these artists are directly engaging with the surveillant assemblage, harnessing the discrete flows of data that normally work to depersonalize and thereby negate individual identities, and instead repurposing these disassembled metrics as a means of examining modern selfhood as it both produces and is produced by surveillance environments. In particular, this article focuses on the tension between metric and narrative representations of self, by drawing on multimedia artistic projects that engage with and combine both aspects and document their efforts in a range of visual and textual media.

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Andrew J. Ball

“Screening Indigenous Bodies” (4.1) and was followed by our issue on “Screening Surveillance” (4.2). In the current “Screen Shot,” edited by Wibke Straube of the Centre for Gender Studies, Karlstad University, our authors address the critically relevant topic

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Anthony Enns

. Optography was imagined as an extension of this disciplinary power, as it could be used not only to identify criminals after an arrest but also to apprehend criminals who were still at large by transforming the eyes of their victims into surveillance cameras

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On Sinofuturism

Resisting Techno-Orientalism in Understanding Kuaishou, Douyin, and Chinese A.I.

Yunying Huang

. China has, for instance, aimed to build the world's most powerful surveillance system ( You 2019 ), and the government has embraced technologies like facial recognition and A.I. to identify and track 1.4 billion people from criminals to jaywalkers to

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Editorial

Screening Vulnerability

Brian Bergen-Aurand

thirty independent documentaries and TV documentaries and one feature film, Camera (2014), which is a science-fiction thriller concerned with surveillance, obsession, and gentrification. Their films have won or been nominated for a number of awards and

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Barbara Pollack

the technological feats of the production, we confront our societal fear of being replaced by technology. Facial recognition software, now common on iPhones, is also a powerful surveillance tool, especially in China. Likewise, social media has extended

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Brian Bergen-Aurand

of portable and personal devices and the institutional ones of medical and surveillance imaging. It addresses the portrayal, function, dissemination, affect, and reception of screened bodies from the perspectives of gender and sexuality studies

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Editorial

Situating Screen Bodies

Brian Bergen-Aurand

medical tourist as film tourist, the relationship between European art film and the archive of the black body, new ways of describing the filmic experience through Baruch Spinoza and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the pornographic body under state surveillance

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Introduction

Toward a Queer Sinofuturism

Ari Heinrich, Howard Chiang, and Ta-wei Chi

. Dissatisfied with the flattened depiction of Chinese surveillance in contemporary Western Orientalist discourses, Huang refuses to go along with characterizations of Chinese netizens as passively subject to “suppression,” instead arguing for a better

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“Banal Apocalypse”

An Interview with Author Ta-wei Chi on the New Translation of The Membranes

Jane Chi Hyun Park and Ta-wei Chi

-aging benefits, all the while recording the client's biometric data. As Ari Heinrich notes, M-skin uncannily predicts contemporary forms of surveillance technology—from fitness and sleep trackers to CCTV and satellite cameras (Heinrich forthcoming). Indeed, the