On the Basis of Face: Biometric Art as Critical Practice, its History and Politics

Devon Schiller

Research output: Non-textual form & short web contentWeb publication/siteProfessional


In September 2019 I visited Linz (Austria), the UNESCO City of Media Arts, where I attended the 40th Anniversary of the Ars Electronica Festival, 'the most time-honored media arts festival in the world,' with its special theme ‘Out of the Box: The Midlife Crisis of the Digital Revolution’. As I nibbled on gummy candies that had been thrust upon me to promote the Sparkasse bank by teenage volunteers at cafés, I expressed myself with the muscular contraction mechanisms and skin appearance movements of my face. As I climbed the stairs to the rooftop of the OK Center for Contemporary Art, where Ukrainian multidisciplinary artist Alexander Ponomarev’s twenty-meter and two-ton The Flying Ship sailed above the city skyline, my facial expressions feedbacked information to my conscious self about my emotional experience. And as I lifted a sunflower high to the stars during Solar: Towards the Sun, staged by British-Polish opera director David Pountney, which brought together scenic effects, music, fireworks, and dance in a Visualized Soundcloud, I empathized with what the people around me were feeling by mirroring the expressions on their faces with my own.

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