Corporeal Connoisseurship: Enlightenment Body Criticism, the Biometric Type and the Individual

By Andrew Speirs.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Exploring nineteenth century criminology and current surveillance and biometrics, this paper examens stereotypes of criminality that were formed over two centuries and are still in use. If nineteenth century criminology set the stage, and the twentieth century elaborated the theory of criminal deviance, many of these ideas were successfully integrated into the core of biometrics. Since the late 1960s artists have sought to unravel the complexities of the gaze and to demonstrate that there is no simple, or even necessary connection, between seeing and knowing, or the observer and the observed. Scientific claims to objectivity have been contested in numerous ways - from historical investigations into the construction of photographic truth that reveal the underlying power structures and social practices - to efforts to redeploy the techniques of surveillance in quite different directions. Much of the early material focuses on the face or facial expression but it also takes in systems of body measurement that were popular well into the twentieth century. I shall look at the work of Lavater, Gall, Lombroso, Bertillon and Havelock Ellis before examining current biometrics.

Keywords: Criminology, Surveillance, Biometrics, Stereotypes, Nineteenth Century Criminology, Twentieth Century Criminal Deviance, Artists, Portrait, Gaze, Objectivity, Photographic Truth, Facial Expression, Body Measurement, Lavater, Gall, Lombroso, Bertillon, Havelock Ellis

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.45-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 543.731KB).

Dr. Andrew Speirs

Sesqui Lecturer 2D 3D Visualisation, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Andrew Speirs coordinates the Master of Studio Art at Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney, with research interests in graphical reasoning and visualisation. Trained in new media, interactive art and sculpture, Dr Speirs works across biometrics, fine arts and criminology with a cross-disciplinary PhD in biometrics. At St. Vincent's Hospital Cardiopulmonary Transplant Unit he researched fractured subjectivity. A residency at the Sydney Children's Hospital allowed him to extend fine art practices of hospitalised youth, with an outreach project in digital art practices for homeless adolescent and a project using video for self-efficacy for anorexics. Exhibiting profile includes digital media, etching and public interactive sculpture. In his spare time he surfs, writes fiction and, with his wife takes long bicycle trips such as from Istanbul to Luxor and from the Gulf of Thailand to Hanoi. He lives in Sydney Australia with his wife Victoria and two cats, Chickenbones & Ratbreath.

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