“Smart” Cameras and the Operational Enclosure

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Concerns about the impending implementation of facial recognition technology in public and shared spaces go beyond privacy to include the changing relationship between space and power. This article explores the relationship between automated identification and social sorting, decision-making, and response. To develop a theoretical framework for considering the ways in which facial recognition technology reconfigures power relations, the article considers the effects of treating the face as what Harun Farocki calls an “operative image”: not a representation, but part of a sequence of operations. These operations deprive the face of its distinctive character to facilitate the automated governance of space. For Foucault, environmentality focused on the governance of populations, but digital technology individualizes and particularizes this process. Facial recognition technology raises issues of public concern not simply because it changes the conditions of privacy and recognition in shared spaces, but because it enables new modes of automated control.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalTelevision and New Media
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019


  • automation
  • environmentality
  • facial recognition
  • smart cameras
  • surveillance
  • vertical mediation

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