Universiteit Leiden

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Data Anxieties and the Need for Opticality

  • Daniela Agostinho (University of Copenhagen)
Wednesday 19 April 2017
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Prism, the code name of the clandestine surveillance program under which the US National Security Agency (NSA) collects Internet communications, has unearthed the persistence of vision as a cultural trope and the contested notion of visibility that informs the so-called Post-Snowden Era. Named after the transparent optical device, Prism speaks to the desire to see everything from multiple angles, as well as to the “data anxieties” (Crawford, 2014) afflicting those who surveil and those surveilled: on the one hand, the fear that there can never be enough data, and on the other, the fear that one can be singled out in the data. In this talk visual culture scholar Daniela Agostinho (University of Copenhagen) discusses the relation between data anxieties and regimes of vision through Jeff Nichols’ film Midnight Special (2016), where transparency technologies - such as night goggles, light beams, satellites and aerial cameras – coexist and compete with obscure phenomena. Drawing from a wide range of surveillance and critical data studies, she will address how Nichols’ sci-fi thriller negotiates the drive for transparency and the persistence of opticality under the current anxiety of seeing and being seen through data. 

Daniela Agostinho is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen, where she is affiliated with the Uncertain Archives research group (www.uncertainarchives.dk). She currently works on visual governmentality, the politics of data visualization, archival theories of big data, and the visual culture of contemporary surveillance and warfare. 

MAP Lectures

This talk is part of the Leiden Lectures on Media | Art | Politics, organized by Pepita Hesselberth, Yasco Horsman, and Tingting Hui. For more information about upcoming lectures and registration, click here.

The Map Lectures are made possible with the support of:

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