HOW NOT TO BE SEEN: A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File
Hito Steyerl ( German, 1966 )
Hito Steyerl’s How Not To Be Seen examines the politics of visibility and the means for opting out of being represented in the digital age. Structured as a “how-to” video, Steyerl’s work presents a variety of practical techniques to avoid being captured by the camera’s lens. These tactics range from the obvious (hiding), to the outlandish (invisibility cloak), to the sarcastic (being female and over fifty). While playful in tone, the video’s message is gravely serious; the digital networks that visualize the world today serve to exploit the masses in the name of control, power, and profit. And, as more of us use smartphones to document ourselves and keep tabs on one another through social media, we are implicitly aiding and abetting these monitoring systems through a “regime of (mutual) self-control and visual self-disciplining.” Steyerl cautions that “hegemony is increasingly internalized, along with the pressure to conform and perform, as is the pressure to represent and be represented.” Here the act of disappearing becomes synonymous with refusal—a refusal to give in to such pressures, and a refusal to participate in these networks of exploitation.
- Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 252.