Face abstraction! Biometric identities and authentic subjectivities in the truth practices of data

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On social media, the face—and the body—act as sites of subjectivity, whose authenticity is anchored in the “truth” of verifiable identity. This claim to authentic subjectivity is grounded in the promise of access to the “real person” as a biologically unique identity. Establishing the supposed truth of such identities is often done through using techniques such as facial biometrics. I demonstrate how contemporary data modalities construct biologically unique identities and authentic subjectivities as two end poles connected through data practices. These practices seek to designate “reality” in order to establish their own validity and usefulness. Overall, I argue that current data practices designate the face and the body as “the real world” to generate further forms of abstraction that can be anchored upon the indexical promises of physical truths. These data practices then process the biological, the socio-political, the imaginary, layering and stitching abstractions together.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-26
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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