Fabienne Liptay (Université de Zürich)
Testing is a common practice deployed in a broad field of social engineering and governance. It relies on venturous experimentation as well as calculation and estimation in the service of risk management, controlling processes and even predicting their probable outcomes based on statistical reasoning. Testing thus operates on social life by creating scenarios in which social order is maintained, disrupted, or restored according to prescriptive and regulatory measures. In my lecture, I will explore the idea that film not only participates in social life, but is also placed in the service of its testing. The works discussed are Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests(1964-66), William Greaves’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (1968), and Hito Steyerl’s SocialSim (2020), all of which use technologies of testing to explore the social complexities and tensions at play in the process of their making. Albeit diverse, these works critically engage with theoretical models and practices from the social sciences (Alphonse Bertillon in Warhol, Arthur F. Bentley in Greaves, and Joshua Epstein in Steyerl) to reveal the technological and ideological parameters used to regulate and control society. Departing from Tony Bennett’s concept of the “exhibitionary complex” and its indebtedness to Foucault, I wish to draw attention to another web of relations, one in which power is exercised not through modes of visibility, but through statistical measures operating in and through images as part of the “transactional realities” of civil society.
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La conférence aura lieu via Zoom : https://unil.zoom.us/j/2051579186