Studies in Control Societies, Volume 2
Issue 1, Spring 2017
To Be or Not To Be: On Tiqqun’s Negative Anthropology, by Niels Springveld
This article examines the radical poetics of the French collective and journal Tiqqun. Inspired by Situationism, Autonomia, and continental philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben and Michel Foucault, Tiqqun’s poetics consists of an attempt to conceptualize resistance in a non-identitarian manner. The collective rejects every emancipatory political project that is based on a shared essence, substance, origin, or identity, and conceives of politics as the tension between what one is and what one is not. With their “negative anthropology,” Tiqqun emphasizes singularity, potentiality, and non-identity over identity. This article discusses Tiqqun’s negative anthropology and their main philosophical and political influences in order to rethink resistance beyond a molar opposition between a suppressing authority on the one hand and suppressed group(s) on the other.
Seeing with Software: Palantir and the Regulation of Life, by Luke Munn
How is life mapped, analyzed, and regulated through the algorithmic? This text investigates a particular algorithmic object—Palantir Gotham, a platform promising to uncover insights from vast amounts of information. Developed initially for intelligence and military organizations, the platform has been rapidly adopted by an array of law enforcement agencies as well as corporations in the financial, health, food, and media sectors, infusing the algorithmic further into the everyday. The highly complex algorithmic ecology of Gotham is unpacked using the notion of the machine—strategic intersections of matter with particular flows and capacities. The first machine is composed of several Gotham tools, the ‘stack’ of hardware which powers those tools, and the analyst which uses them to uncover patterns of life. The second machine zeroes in on a particular instance of Gotham, examining how the analyst and license-plate data used by the LAPD comes together to regulate human life in Los Angeles. This unpacking reveals the logic and performativities specific to the algorithmic, qualities which signal a shift in the modalities of power, from the somatic to the systematic. But power is never totalizing and these machines also reveal the inconsistencies in algorithmic logic, errors which inspire more effective models for response than that of resistance or refusal.
Surveillance As Paradox: A Review of Feminist Surveillance Studies by Lindsay Weinberg
This review traces the paradoxical logic of surveillance as both “seeing” and “not seeing” throughout the chapters of Feminist Surveillance Studies. While surveillance works to visualize a subject that can be objectified, commodified, and controlled, it simultaneously attempts to make its own violence invisible. The review concludes by discussing what a feminist methodology for surveillance studies might look like in conversation with the push to distinguish the field.
Studies in Control Societies, Volume 1
Issue 1: Periodizing Control, Spring 2016
Periodizing With Control, by Seb Franklin
This essay reads Gilles Deleuze’s “Postscript on Control Societies” (1990) both as a work of periodization theory and as a theory of periodization. Focusing on the intersections Deleuze locates between governmentality, technology, and economics, the essay suggests that the “Postscript” sketches a methodology for interrogating the relationship between systems of organization and accumulation and the shifting logics of occlusion and suspension that undergird them.
Perception and Periodization: Video Game Perspective as Symbolic Form, by Nathaniel Zetter
Since at least the arrival of 3D graphical displays in the mid-1990s, video games have employed visual perspective to make the flat computer screen appear to be a deep and immersive game world. This essay delineates the three major perspectival modes present in video games today—the first-person, the third-person, and the strategy mode—in order to identify the way in which they make certain political structures operable within the game’s architecture. While periodization is typically elaborated by the historian, sociologist or cultural theorist, here we find a form of periodization internal to the perceptual architecture of contemporary digital media. Such a periodization, this essay argues, is central to the classificatory tools by which subjects and non-subjects are marked out within the societies of control.
Counter-Periodizing Surveillance Studies: A Review of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, by Lindsay Weinberg
This review frames Simone Browne’s essential text for the study of racializing surveillance as a work of counter-periodization. Browne’s situating of blackness in relation to the historical development of surveillance helps to center the continuities between earlier modes of monitoring, overseeing, and policing subjects and newer modes of surveillance. Weinberg also details the implications of Browne’s text for future studies of surveillance and for modes of resistance against its logics.
Issue 2, Fall 2016
Counter-Mapping Surveillance Aesthetics with Tra Bouscaren
In “Surveillance Aesthetics and Theatre against ‘Empire,'” Peter Eckersall explains:
The surveillance aesthetic comes into being when we begin to see and experience our world though the ever present chimera of surveillance. It is part of a new spatial and cultural formation; one that watches and listens, compares, and directs. It constructs systems and hierarchies as organising principals to determine the ways that we might see and relate to the world around us. (Eckersall 2003)
In the second issue of SCS, we have featured the work of Tra Bouscaren, a post-disciplinary artist, researcher, educator and occasional curator who takes surveillance aesthetics, re-maps and re-projects its spatial and cultural formations, and produces work that simultaneously implicates and emancipates the viewer captured by regimes of surveillance.
Eckersall, P. 2003. “Surveillance aesthetics and theatre against ‘Empire.'” Double Dialogues, 4.
A Review of Landscapes of Fear by Michael Kimaid
Michael Kimaid provides a stunningly thorough review of of Yi-Fu Tuan’s 2013 reissue of Landscapes of Fear, a text that grapples with cultural, social, and historical understandings of fear and their relationships to power, control, and geography.