November 02
14:15 - 15:45

Policing Mobility: Cameras, Profiling and Tracing

Mobility Media: An Archaeology of Identity Photography through Science, Art and Visual Culture

In an era of total surveillance, being in possession of a biometric ID document can still result in denial of one’s basic civil protections and human rights. The discovery of systematic errors in state-implemented facial recognition programs—such as in recognizing faces of color (Joy Buolamwini)—suggests the failure of current practices of global intelligence and mobility. This paper offers an archaeological investigation of the contemporary photo ID document. Returning to its invention in the 1920s, it examines the issues of conjectural knowledge (Carl Ginzburg), embodiment or tact (Béla Balázs) and the optical unconscious (Walter Benjamin) behind early “physiognomic” media.

Eszter M. Polonyi

Eszter M. Polonyi is Assistant Professor of Cultural History at the University of Nova Gorica (2020-) and in 2021-22 will also serve as Visiting Chair of Media Archaeology at the University of Udine. Prior to her move to Europe last year, she lectured on modern art, film and media at the Art History departments of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Columbia University (PhD, Art History, 2017).

Umberto Ellero’s Teleiconotipia: An Intermedial Perspective on the Tele-Transmission of Mugshots in colonial Italy

In 1911, at the time of Italy’s colonial invasion of Libya, police commissioner Umberto Ellero patented his method of phototelegraphy through which, he claimed, a reliable photograph could be transmitted in three hours even from the most remote colonies. The first two tele-transmitted photographs were a portrait of King Victor Emmanuel II and the mugshot of ‘an arab’, the perfect embodiment of Lombroso’s atavistic criminal. By looking at the colonial narratives and racist stereotypes at work in Ellero’s surveillance technology, my aim is to bring back to light the marginalised episode of an intermedial invention which became obsolescent in the late 1920s, and its role in representing and consolidating colonial politics.

Nicoletta Leonardi

Nicoletta Leonardi is Professor of Photographic History and Dean of Graduate Studies at the School of Art and Media of Brera Academy of Fine Arts (Milan). She is the author of "Il paesaggio americano dell’Ottocento" (Donzelli 2003) and "Fotografia e materialità in Italia" (Postmedia 2013) and the co-editor (with Simone Natale) of "Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century" (Penn State UP 2018).

Filming at the Border: A Geopolitics of Environmental Media

In recent years, the concept of the border has undergone profound transformations and become central to a broad debate investigating the complexity of its political, social and technological practices. Considering the importance assumed by media technologies in border areas, as well as the growing interest of filmmakers, photographers and visual artists in the liminal spaces of contemporary Europe, it is necessary to open up a dialogue between border studies and media studies. The aim of this communication is to reflect on the capacity of documentary movies produced during the so-called European Migrant Crisis to show and criticize the functioning of technological devices that act along the border, and thus investigate the imprint left by the media in the construction of this geographical and political milieu

Francesco Zucconi

Francesco Zucconi is Assistant Professor at the IUAV University of Venice, membre associé at the Centre d’Histoire et de Théorie des Arts, EHESS, and fellow at the Institut des Migrations in Paris. His publications include: "La sopravvivenza delle immagini nel cinema. Archivio, montaggio, intermedialità" (Mimesis 2013, and 2020); "Displacing Caravaggio: Art, Media, and Humanitarian Visual culture" (Palgrave Macmillan 2018). He is currently working on a book on the “border mediascape” of contemporary Europe.