Elise Morrison – Discipline and Desire: Surveillance, Feminism, Performance


Discipline and Desire: Surveillance, Feminism, Performance investigates the emergent genre of ‘surveillance art,’ or art works that centrally employ technologies and techniques of surveillance to create theatre, installation, and performance art.  Theoretically grounded in cultural theory, feminist theory, and performance studies, and focused on practices within performance and new media art, this book project examines the wide variety of ways in which surveillance artists tactically utilize material technologies of surveillance to politically and aesthetically address a multitude of social, political, and technical issues raised by increasingly pervasive surveillance around the world. By appropriating surveillance technologies from military, state, and consumer markets into public and private spaces of performance and interactive installation, surveillance artists re-contextualize these technologies and the power dynamics that historically attend them, provoking critical inquiry of the disciplinary functions of the human-technology interface of surveillance.  The book explores a range of surveillance art works by groups such as The Surveillance Camera Players, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, and the Shunt Collective, and artists as Sophie Calle, Jill Magid, Steve Mann, Janet Cardiff, Mona Hatoum, Giles Walker, and Edit Kaldor, each of whom stage performances and interactive installations that show up, critique, and/or re-structure dominant surveillance technologies and techniques.  Though most contemporary surveillance artists do not draw explicit allegiances to feminism, this book argues that such artists are in implicit conversation with feminist approaches to defining, critiquing, and building alternatives to a dominant, disciplinary gaze in visual culture.