HOW NOT TO BE SEEN: A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File

MAKER:
Artist

Hito Steyerl ( German, 1966 )

DATE:
2013
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General Description

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.

Excerpt from

  • 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.

Web Resources

  • MoMA Learning
    Explore How Not to Be Seen through film stills, a video excerpt, interviews, and more.

  • Art 21
    Learn more about Steyerl and watch her conversation with Shahzia Sikander at the 13th Istanbul Biennial.

  • e-flux
    Explore Steyerl's analysis of subjecthood in an age of digital representation.