Panel Discussion
Panel Discussion

Face Value: The politics of facial recognition

Professionals Programme Dutch Film Festival

27 September 2021
15:50 — 17:30

Location: Stadsschouwburg Utrecht
€11 (regular) / € 8 (students / CJP / 65+)
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]. 

Read more about Face Value


This event is made possible by

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Website by HOAX Amsterdam