Denormalising surveillance through curation in Face Value:Surveillance and Identity in the Age of Digital Face Recognition

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In spite of a range of fundamental issues, biometric surveillance has become an integral part of everyday life. Artists are creating a range of creative responses to the emergence of biometric control that critically interrogate and denormalise it. Most of the existing research in this topic however ignores the exhibitionary context in which surveillance art is usually experienced. This article shifts the analytical perspective to the site of the exhibition in order to attend to the specificity of the artworks’ critical potential – that is influenced by their spatial and narrative context, as well as their juxtaposition with each other. Specifically, it analyses the exhibition Face Value: Surveillance and Identity in the Age of Digital Facial Recognition (2021) as an exemplary case study to discuss how exhibitions can construct a multi-faceted framework through which visitors can get a grip of the ‘society of control’. Drawing on Pisters and Deleuze, this article argues that exhibitions can engender a constellation of ‘circuit breakers’ in which the biometric control of faces is disrupted through a configuration of artistic strategies. In Face Value, these strategies include exposing the black-boxed structures of facial recognition software, showing the human stories behind data and imagining alternative technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-198
Number of pages17
JournalMedia Practice and Education
Issue number2
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Art exhibition
  • Biometric surveillance
  • Disruption
  • Facial recognition
  • Surveillance art


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