Face Value: The politics of facial recognition
Professionals Programme Dutch Film Festival
Location: Stadsschouwburg Utrecht
Programme will also be streamed online.
Online ticket: €7,99
Now that human encounters are increasingly taking place online, and facial recognition is everywhere – from phone locks to border control – faces are continuously digitized and analyzed through machine vision. In this process, the face not merely functions as a site of human interaction, but also as a password, a container of data and a target of state control. For the professionals programme of the Dutch Film Festival, IMPAKT organises a panel to investigate these themes together with visual artists and researchers Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Christine Quinan en Nakeema Stefflbauer. The panel is part of the exhibition Face value, on view at IMPAKT from 18 September to 10 October.
When walking on the street, posting a selfie or joining a demonstration, there is a continuous risk that information about your face is saved in a database and analyzed by facial recognition software. As this happens from a distance and tends to be invisible, you might be unaware of the amount of information that is captured in these moments. When, why and how you are recognized is not a neutral process, but marked by structures of in- and exclusion. Research shows that biometric systems are biased and can amplify racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination.
The panel consists of an in-depth conversation between experts (visual artists and researchers), followed by a Q&A in which you can ask the speakers your questions. Together we will investigate the politics of facial recognition:
- How does the continuous screening, capturing and digitization of our faces, voices and emotions impact how we value them?
- What are the socio-political consequences of an algorithm that reduces your face to a digital barcode, making assumptions about your identity based on how you look?
- How can we return our gaze, and investigate the possibilities and limitations of machine vision?
- And is it time to reclaim our faces?
With: Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Dr. Christine Quinan, Dr. Nakeema Stefflbauer and Ella Jakubowska.
Moderator: Rosa Wevers
The panel is part of the exhibition Face Value and is a collaboration between Utrecht University, IMPAKT, and the Dutch Film Festival. The panel has been curated by Rosa Wevers. The exhibition presents different artistic positions that critically investigate the way technologies capture facial information, while also showing how these technologies can be used in alternative ways. Visit the exhibition from 18 September – 10 October at IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture].
Heather Dewey-Hagborg― Speaker
Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice. Her controversial biopolitical art practice includes the project Stranger Visions in which she created portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material (such as hair, cigarette butts, or chewed up gum) collected in public places.
Rosa Wevers― Moderator
Rosa Wevers is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University. For her research project 'Facing Surveillance: Artistic Strategies in Times of Control' she analyzes how contemporary art exhibitions confront visitors with critical perspectives on surveillance and engage them in strategies of resistance. Before starting her PhD, Rosa worked as a coordinator of the Museum of Equality and Difference (MOED) and the Gender and Diversity Hub of Utrecht University. Rosa is the co-host and co-producer of Kunstmatig, a podcast on art and technology.
Christine Quinan― Speaker
Christine Quinan is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Utrecht University, but will soon take up a position in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Quinan's research interests include queer theory, trans studies, postcolonial studies, and critical security studies, with work on gender, surveillance, and securitization appearing in several journals and edited volumes. Quinan recently published Hybrid Anxieties: Queering the French-Algerian War and its Postcolonial Legacies (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), with a second monograph entitled "The Borders of Gender: Recognition, Representation, Resistance" in progress. With dr. Marjolein van den Brink, Quinan is also the co-founder of the international research network Gender Identity Registration and Human Rights Effects, based at Utrecht University.
Nakeema Stefflbauer― Speaker
Dr. Nakeema Stefflbauer is a senior digitalization executive and the founder and CEO of FrauenLoop, a nonprofit organization in Berlin, Germany that trains resident, immigrant and refugee women in computer programming. An advocate for digital inclusion, tech equity and transparency, Dr. Stefflbauer is a graduate of Harvard University and Brown University and also holds an MBA. She writes and speaks about the impact of digital technologies on marginalized groups and has given keynotes at Re:publica (Berlin), at Humanity in Action (Amsterdam) Action Academy, and at an EU Parliament Brussels hearing on "Automated Discrimination”, among other forums. Her most recent video talk (made with the digital justice artist Nushin Yazdani) will be featured by the Detroit Science Academy in Fall 2021 with the title “Future Tense: AI From the Margins.”
Ella Jakubowska― Speaker
Ella Jakubowska is policy advisor at EDRi (European Digital Rights association). She leads EDRi's advocacy on biometric mass surveillance practices (such as public facial recognition) used by law enforcement agencies, government authorities and private actors. She contributes to the team’s work on artificial intelligence and anti-discrimination, with a keen interest in issues of power, justice, the construction o fcriminality, and how biometric technologies threaten rights to equality and non-discrimination. Ella holds an interdisciplinary MSc in Human Rights, with a research focus on feminist approaches to the sociology of Science & Technology. Prior to joining EDRi, Ella worked in digital business transformation.