Face Value

Surveillance and Identity in the Age of Digital Face Recognition

On show from 18 September until 10 October.
Opening hours: 12:00 - 17:00 Wednesday till Sunday

Opening: 17 September, 17:00 - 20:00h

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Face Value investigates the changing meaning of the human face in a digitised society where our portraits are continually captured and screened.
Human encounters are increasingly taking place online. Facial recognition is happening everywhere – whether on phones or at border control – machines are continuously digitising and analysing human faces. Our faces are no longer only channels of human interaction: they are passwords, data containers, and targets of state control.

Whether you’re walking along the street, posting a selfie or taking part in a demonstration, there’s a constant risk that information about your face is being saved to a database and analysed by facial recognition software. Because this usually happens remotely the process tends to be invisible to you, so you probably won’t be aware of just how much information is being captured. Decisions about when, why and how you are identified are not neutral – they are defined by structures of in- and exclusion.  Biometric technologies identify individuals based on their physical and behavioural traits, but research shows that biometric systems are biased. They can amplify racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Face Value is a response to these urgent questions:

How does the continuous screening, capturing and digitisation of our faces, voices and emotions impact how we value them?

What are the socio-political consequences of using algorithms that reduce your face to a digital barcode, and that make assumptions about your identity based on how you look?

Is it time to reclaim our faces?

IMPAKT presents five artistic positions that critically investigate the way technologies capture facial information; the social, political and cultural consequences of the phenomenon; and how we can reclaim our faces. The artworks invite you to reflect on what gets lost when human bodies, voices and emotions are captured in binary code. Face Value also explores how facial technologies can be used in alternative ways that allow for intimate connections between technologies, physical bodies and communities. 

Artists: Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Effi & Amir, Josèfa Ntjam, Martine Stig and Ningli Zhu.
Curator: Rosa Wevers (Utrecht University)

The concept for this exhibition was developed by Rosa Wevers as part of the Full Spectrum Curatorship Programme, IMPAKT’s training programme for emerging curators with a specific interest in media art and its relationship to technology and society.

The exhibition Face Value has been generously supported by the City of Utrecht, Creative Industries Fund NL, Democracy and Media Foundation, Mondriaan Fund, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Pictoright Fund, and the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and takes place in collaboration with the Dutch Film Festival.

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Dutch Film Festival

The IMPAKT Exhibition Face Value is part of the Digital Culture Programme of the Dutch Film Fesitval. As part of this programme you can also visit the exhibition StorySpace at the Neude Library, Utrecht, from 24 September – 1 October. During the Dutch Film Festival entrance to both exhibitions is free. Read more

With the exhibition we organise the online panel “Face Value: The politics of facial recognition” on Monday 27 September, as part of the Professionals Programme of the Dutch Film Festival.

Read more about the programme here


This event is made possible by

Event archive

Website by HOAX Amsterdam