Meta-Watching and Facial Recognition Cinema

Aaron Tucker is a PhD student in VISTA Core Member Graham Wakefield's lab. Within the Faculty of Art, Media, Performance & Design, Aaron's research explores the notion of cinema and perception from the perspective of the facial recognition enabled camera.

“Meta-Watching and The Ontology of Facial Recognition Cinema” by Aaron Tucker won the Film Studies Association of Canada Student Essay Prize 2019. He explains:

"It is urgent to consider the particular kinds of “perception” and “spectatorship” that the facial recognition-enabled (FRE) camera possesses and the properties of the cinema such a camera might generate. A FRE camera has memory, even as “memory” is a word activated very differently when housed in a digital assemblage. It is reflexively watching its own footage, a meta-watching: first, the camera receives footage; second, that footage is taken in as input and processed through its algorithm (which includes matching within its databases and a set of other potential interlocking algorithms and processes); lastly, that information is made visible as an image, or moving image, that interchangeably combines with footage and data.

"From this, activating Jacques Rancière’s notion of “aesthetic practices,” the FRE camera is just one example of potentially very problematic “forms of visibility that disclose artistic practices, the place they occupy, what they ‘do’ or ‘make’ from the standpoint of what is common to the community.” Importantly then, “aesthetics” extends artistic practices to the types of “visibility” that is recognized and valued (or unrecognized and undervalued), that Rancière ties directly to a society’s consensus, the hegemonic practices of a society, that is ultimately politically, not artistically, activated."