[-empyre-] surveillance and capitalism

Alex Taek-Gwang Lee tglee at khu.ac.kr
Fri Feb 19 23:46:50 AEDT 2021

Dear all,

Many thanks for your insightful responses. Renate's attention to the Korean
situation is not exaggerated. As Simon said, these all algorithmic
surveillance machines construct the "ally of governmentality". What is
urgently needed to do is that we should find out a way to get out of this
paradigmatic mechanism. However, I would like to emphasize how the function
of mechanical surveillance always already fails. In my opinion, the point
of its failure is the preserved locus of resistance. When the Gulf War
broke out in 1990, Félix Guattari wrote an essay, “Towards Postmedia Era”,
in which he put forward the potential resistances in the mechanical
categorization of media. He pondered the images of warfare on the
television and states that those images made us lift off into “an almost
delirious universe of mass-media subjectivity” He argued that "the growing
power of software engineering does not necessarily lead to the power of Big
Brother. In fact, it is way more cracked than it seems. It can blow up like
a wind shield under the impact of molecular alternative practices". I am
agreed with Guattari's argument. There is no perfect Big Brother in
surveillance's mechanical function, but many potential resistances within
them because its control always fails. This is the reason why we should
organize the possible resistance against mechanical governmentality.


2021년 2월 19일 (금) 오후 9:03, <himself at robbycollins.com>님이 작성:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hallo all,
> The mechanical surveillance that Alex describes strikes me as incredibly
> brutal and pervasive in its simplicity. It shows how the presence of
> cameras are so important.
> I often engage in a little retospeculative design when I hear of new
> applications of technology. Imagining how these systems might have been
> enacted in the past and how they would have been subverted or avoided:
>   - A pile of books on an office chair that uses a switch to detect when
> someone is sitting in it, and apparently working.
>   - The natural sense that workers develop for the presence of management
> on the ‘shop floor and perform for the duration.
>   - Homer Simpson’s nodding bird pressing the big red button on his remote
> nuclear power station terminal...
> It’s a strange non-linear surveillance with cameras in the workplace. No
> one is watching you in real time. There’s no security guard looking at a
> screen. But, if you or anyone else does something that is deemed remarkable
> (for this AI), you are now being watched sometime now, in the past, or in
> the future. A Schrödinger's box of varying cats and radioactive sources
> that can be opened at any time.
> I wrote a little thought-piece, to myself, about a potential surveillance
> methodology called posture surveillance.
> <http://youarenotbeautiful.com/index.php/2021/01/24/walk-this-way-posture-surveillance/>
> It imagined something beyond facial recognition and emotion tracking, which
> used our whole body as a data source through our stance, gait and the
> general way we hold ourselves and move through our environment. It’s a
> clumsy thought experiment, but it made me think about how I have
> ‘performed’ (and still perform) in certain environments – my 15-year-old
> self confidently, but nonchalantly, walking up to the doorman of the
> nightclub I needed to get into, or the finely balanced confident/no-threat
> walk as I passed a gang of ‘youths’ on a dark street. Both unknown and
> unpredictable entities where I projected identities and desires and tried
> to be the thing that would get me through the gate.
> The more we know about the surveillance around us, the more we co-perform
> with it. In the posture tracking example, when we know that this aspect of
> ourselves is being monitored, how do we figure out the best “citizen
> posture”, and where is it applicable? We also need to be deferential and
> humble at times. Do we all adopt a neutral walk to normalise this for the
> AI? But what happens when an individual adopts a new posture that resonates
> with his success at being a good citizen! How can such a system be gamed?
> I’ll stop there before I go entirely overboard (I’ll do that on my own)
> and see if anyone has more thoughts about this co-performance/entanglement
> <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323869840_Co-performance_Conceptualizing_the_Role_of_Artificial_Agency_in_the_Design_of_Everyday_Life> that
> we enact with technology and how it could be observed and weighed as a
> source for exposing these voids where resistance can be applied.
> Rob
> www.robbycollins.com
> On 16/02/2021 22:28, Simon wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> On 17/02/21 9:32 am, Renate Ferro wrote:
> if you all think we can go back to before Covid existance without webcams,
> zoom, and tracking surveillance.
> at the same time as we have seen the overthrow of capitalism--governments
> finding again that lever that was being hidden from them, that in large
> part they hid from themselves, and switching off the economy--we see an
> explosion of all sorts of data-gathering and surveillance. This is now seen
> as the ally of governmentality. And, it follows, financialising data is
> regarded as the basis for political economy. Newly, that is, paradigmatic.
> At my own place of work, a public library, where I am a part-time worker,
> kiosks have been installed with finger-vein scanners, so that workers can
> clock-in, and -out.
> The library is run by Auckland City Council and the new Time and
> Attendance model, as it is called, is being rolled out by a private
> company, HumanForce, who are charged with taking care of the biometric data
> gathered by their machines.
> One detail is striking, considering the application of these kiosks at a
> library: subcutaneous finger-vein scanning is the preferred mode of
> identifying individuals *because workers hands can be dirty *making
> fingerprinting difficult.
> It's all those dirty books!
> Best,
> Simon
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Dr. Alex Taek-Gwang Lee

School of Global Communication
Global Centre for Technology in Humanities
Kyung Hee University
1732 Deogyeong-daero, Giheung-gu
Yongin-si 17104
Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

Mobile: +82 (0)10 2787 1459
Telephone: +82 (0)31 201 2285
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