The Craft of Writing – Film Focus – Racial Histories of Surveillance Technologies
R1A 002 | CCN: 10051
Osarugue Otebele, Lou Silhol Macher
Location: Dwinelle 223
Date and Time: TU, TH 9:30am - 10:59am
Have you ever used apps to help you optimize your sleep, organize your to-do lists or your work schedule, or maybe to track your physical activity and alert you when you’ve reached your x-thousand steps goal? And also: Have you ever surfed the web in incognito mode, clicked on “Reject all cookies,” explored the dark web? Possibilities for navigating our tech-saturated present between overexposure and opacity are abundant and yet always embedded in a surveillance media environment.
This course introduces students to thinking about the ways new media technologies follow logics of monitoring, recording, and classifying that lead back to histories of surveillance and carceral technologies long predating our digital media. In fact, media theorists of the past two decades have pointed to the ties between AI-tracking of online user data to methods of surveillance enforced during enslavement in the US, and more recently in Japanese-American internment camps during WWII. Artists, filmmakers, and writers too have engaged with unpacking the racial history of surveillance technologies, notably through the genres of science-fiction and horror, or via the methods of new media art, employing the very tools of surveillance to reflect on its specific operations.
How do we, as viewers of the art, write about these visual artworks and articulate for ourselves and others the theoretical points they make? How can we learn to read images, videos, and art installations to continue the conversation on paper, on our screens, in our writing? We will investigate these questions and more as we put your writing at the center of this class.