Seeing like a border

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This article considers the role played by automated vision in trans- forming bodies into “operational images” that enable the expansion of borders into enclosures – and the multiplication of these enclosures. In this respect, we seek to expand on Chris Rumford’s (2011) invitation to consider what it might mean to “see like a border” (67). We argue that the iconic character of the image – as representation – is col- lapsed into its operational character by the automated sensing system, and then go on to consider the traces of the visual that remain in the context of such ‘images’. We then consider the modality of governance that operates in the register of the operational image – one in which physical space becomes deformable at the granular, individual level, along the lines envisioned by Deleuze in his discussion of societies of control (Deleuze 2017). The resulting form of governance might be described, drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, as the deployment of a granular form of biopower – one that requires the milieu, or envi- ronment, to become deformable and customisable. This, of course, is the mode of power and control anticipated by those who seek to develop and capture the terrains of augmented and virtual reality – or, in more recent terminology, the realm of the “metaverse”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-158
Number of pages18
JournalDigital Culture & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021

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