Face abstraction! Biometric identities and authentic subjectivities in the truth practices of data
On social media, the face—and the body—act as sites of subjectivity, whose authenticity is anchored in the “truth” of verifiable identity. This claim to authentic subjectivity is grounded in the promise of access to the “real person” as a biologically unique identity. Establishing the supposed truth of such identities is often done through using techniques such as facial biometrics. I demonstrate how contemporary data modalities construct biologically unique identities and authentic subjectivities as two end poles connected through data practices. These practices seek to designate “reality” in order to establish their own validity and usefulness. Overall, I argue that current data practices designate the face and the body as “the real world” to generate further forms of abstraction that can be anchored upon the indexical promises of physical truths. These data practices then process the biological, the socio-political, the imaginary, layering and stitching abstractions together.
KeywordsSubject Body Biopolitics Face Authenticity Identity Data analytics Biometrics Abstraction Truth
- Agamben, G. 2000. The Face. In: Means without End: Notes on Politics, trans. Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Anderson, C. 2008. The End of Theory. The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete. The Wired, June 23. https://www.wired.com/2008/06/pb-theory/. Accessed July 28, 2018.
- Balibar, É. 2013. Identity and Difference: John Locke and the Invention of Consciousness. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Bibikhin, V.V. 2012. Property (Ownership), The Philosophy of One’s Own. St. Petersburg: Nauka. A lecture course initially read in 1993-1994 and reworked in 1995 [in Russian].Google Scholar
- Blas, Z. 2012. Facial Weaponization Suite. http://www.zachblas.info/works/facial-weaponization-suite/. Accessed December 16, 2018.
- Bush, V. 1945. As We May Think. The Atlantic Monthly 176 (1): 101–108.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. 2004. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Foucault, M. 2004. The Birth of Biopolitics Lectures at the College de France 1978-1979. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Fuller, M., and O. Goriunova. 2019. Bleak Joys. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Gerlitz, C., and A. Helmond. 2013. The Like Economy: Social Buttons and the Data-Intensive Web. New Media & Society, February 4.Google Scholar
- Glissant, E. 2007. The Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Goriunova, O. 2019. The Digital Subject: People as Data as Persons. Theory, Culture and Society, special issue: Posthumanities (forthcoming).Google Scholar
- Haraway, D. 1997. Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan Meets_OncoMouse. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Henriques, J., W. Hollway, C. Urwin, C. Venn, and V. Walkerdine. 1984. Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
- Hoerl, E., and J. Burton (eds.). 2017. General Ecology, The New Ecological Paradigm. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- Huffer, L., and Foucault’s Fossils. 2017. Life Itself and the Return to Nature in Feminist Philosophy. In Anthropocene Feminism, ed. R. Grusin. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Knight, W. 2017. The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI. MIT Technology Review, April 11. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604087/the-dark-secret-at-the-heart-of-ai/. Accessed July 28, 2018.
- Levinas, E. 1969. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. trans. Alphonse Lingus. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
- Rouvroy, A. 2013. The End(s) of Critique: Data Behaviourism Versus Due Process. In Privacy, Due Process and the Computational Turn, ed. M. Hildebrandt and K. de Vries. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Steyerl, H. 2015. The Terror of Total Dasein. Economies of Presence in the Art Field. DisMagazine. http://dismagazine.com/discussion/78352/the-terror-of-total-dasein-hito-steyerl/. Accessed May 3, 2017.
- Stengers, I. 2010. Cosmopolitics I. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Zuckerberg, M. 2017. Alex Hern: Mark Zuckerberg’s Letter Annotated: What He Said and What He Didn’t. Guardian, 17 February. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ng-interactive/2017/feb/17/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-letter-annotated-what-he-said-what-he-didnt. Accessed May 3, 2017.