February 25, 2014 — Elise Morrison

Through the Looking Glass: Performing Gender in Surveillance Art

While surveillance technologies are commonly figured as masculine, protective instruments of patriarchal power, referred to as “the Man” and “Big Brother,” there is a particular blind spot in cultural studies of surveillance when it comes to critically examining the gaze of surveillance as gendered and gendering. My presentation addresses this oversight by exploring the work of surveillance artists that stage surveillance as a “technology of gender”, a term coined by feminist film theorist Teresa de Lauretis to describe dominant visual media, such as Hollywood cinema, that produce and maintain gender norms. I explore a feminist line of inquiry in these works that, while they do not all draw explicit allegiances to feminism, are implicitly in conversation with feminist approaches to defining, critiquing, and building alternatives to a disciplinary “male gaze” in visual culture. We will look at work by artists and activists such as Jill Magid, Steve Mann, Mona Hatoum, and Giles Walker that make visible the gendered and gendering gaze of surveillance, and produce alternative, even transgressive performances of gender under and through surveillance.

**Join us Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. in room 202 of 220 York. A light, catered lunch will be provided.**

Elise received her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from Brown University in 2011 and is currently a postdoctoral associate in Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale.  Her book project, Discipline and Desire: Surveillance Technologies in Performance, forthcoming from University of Michigan Press, looks at artists who strategically employ technologies of surveillance to create performances and installations that pose new and different ways of interacting with and understanding apparatuses of surveillance.