About Face: exploring the multiple potentialities of Cerniello’s “Danielle”

This paper investigates American film-maker Anthony Cerniello’s animation “Danielle” (2013). Created from a series of photographs of an extended family, “Danielle” oscillates between a fictitious and real subject. As means to explore the multiple facial layers within the work, this paper examines the many potentialities within Deleuzian analyses of the face: the faciality generated by the narrative in each aging face; the deterritorialization of the importance of a face; the fabricated movement that calls up the ‘any-instant-whatever’; the whole subject who is elsewhere, forming a ceaseless becoming; and the immanence of a life that exists as multiple virtual subjectivities. As a reflection of the actual genealogy that exists within the work, this paper also explores the genealogy of animation, examining the qualities of the photographs-turned-animation and their multiple/singular subject.

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Face-less Identification: Tradition and recognition in the work of Ursula Johnson

“L’nuwelti’k (We Are Indian)”, is a series of on-going performative works by Mi’kmaw artist Ursula Johnson, weaving face-concealing baskets over a participant’s head. “L’nuwelti’k” engages discourses of identity, transformation and visibility. Through the use of status-specific titles, Johnson critically comments on the government-imposed categorization of indigenous status and identity through the Indian Act (1985). Tracing the history of identification and modes of classification, this paper investigates the woven baskets as presenting simultaneously inner and outer layers of publicly visible and invisible formations of identity. Through a methodology of weaving I investigate “L’nuwelti’k” as cultural object, taking up the materiality and process of traditional Mi’kmaw basketry; as mask, engaging a discourse of visibility and invisibility; and as metaphor for the phenomenological body. From these three perspectives, this essay engages and unwraps the political and social critique within Johnson’s body of work. This paper also contemplates the sustainability of identity, and the continual transformation and adaptation of identity within our current cultural moment.

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The Glut of Faciality: The Public/Private Face in Surveillance Culture

Starting with Michael Warner’s historical analysis of public and private, this essay questions the position of the face when taken up as a set of information, biometric algorithms and codified analysis. Historically, public and private have been understood as spatially distinct zones, and what is considered public or private is embedded in instinctual behaviour and modes of speech. Advancements in biometric technologies and applications have led to the body as a flow of information and communication patterns, resulting in a loss of the material body. I argue that the amassing and distributing identities by corporations and bodies of government denies the face as the place of private expression and turns it into an object of mass culture and commerce. Facial recognition software, though not a revolutionary tool, engages issues of racial and social discrimination, abuse of power, and ways of seeing that shape the trajectory of public and private zones. In this way, I question the social and cultural acceptance and enthusiasm of technology as a universal remedy for behavior regulation and manipulation.

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Mask/Face: Facial Recognition and the Performance of Identity

To uncover the paradox of the face in its various dualisms, this paper takes up Gillian Wearing’s Self Portrait at Twenty Seven Years Old (2012), as a contemporary work that engages a discourse of surveillance and visibility. Tracing the history of facial identification and modes of classification, this essay draws on a genealogical methodology to locate contemporary instances of biometrics. As a self-portrait, my object of study grounds itself within the discourse of classical portraiture, photography, and the close-up image of the face isolated from the body. Exploring the history of photography as documentation, as well as the plasticity of identity, this essay intends to explore Wearing’s self-portrait as demonstrating a resistance to the increase in biometric technologies and facial image identification.

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Under and Beyond (the Skin): Artistic process, trauma and embodiment in image-making.

This paper examines bodily presence and absence, points of connectivity, and negotiates the terrain of the body through two distinct projects. Engaging in a drawing centered practice I consider embodiment through two projects (Under the Skin and Beyond the Skin), forming a dyad through which to negotiate and illuminate various bodily expressions and representations. Under the Skin takes up a study of embodiment through trauma and the body in pain. Beyond the Skin engages the prosthesis from an artistic perspective, exploring the capacity for altering the figuration of the body, which in turn informs my artistic praxis.

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The Glut of Faciality: Face, mask and identity in contemporary surveillance culture.

For the duration of this Master’s program, it is my intention to develop a critical writing and prototyping practice to investigate and disseminate the ways in which our bodies’ become commoditized, their function, profile or appearance negotiated through the various uses and implications of technological translation. Through explorations of biological identity, transformation and growth, I take up the digitized, technologized concept of “corporeal fetishism” set out by cultural theorists Donna Haraway and Judith Butler. I question a social and cultural acceptance of technology as a universal remedy through the lens of biometrics, as a means of identification, classification and categorization.