Fixing Being with Likeness: Facial Recognition as the Stage for Global Per-Formance

Chris Campanioni


This contribution uses a phenomenological and psychoanalytic framework to rethink the porous boundaries between being and likeness. I move from a Surrealist advertising pamphlet produced in 1919 to the facial surgery techniques of 2018, contextualizing theories of the dyadic relationship between text and reader (Iser) with practices of image-solicitation and digital intimacy on the Internet. In unpacking self-surveillance techniques and state-run biometric technologies, this paper examines how our use of faces informs the ways our faces are used against us. Through analyzing how the performance of fantasy and the realization of authorship are imbricated through images of humankind, I research new developments in Augmented Reality avatars, linking the language of the face (Lévinas) as a staging ground for potential empathy and conversely, systematic exclusion. In tracing the data double while looking at the biopolitical function of social media, this paper considers how our images of humankind fix our embodied nature while fixing others in place.


facial recognition; digital intimacy; Internet studies; algorithmic governance; migration; surrealism

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis