You have a new memory

Hal Foster

How should a visual artist respond to a culture in which the vast majority of images are produced by machines for other machines, with humans left out of the loop? This technological turn complicates basic ideas about mimesis: that images represent the world, that they are meant to be beheld by us, that they mean at all (think of facial-recognition programs alone). The standard critique that contemporary society is swamped by spectacle, by images directed at us, may also have to be revised. If power today depends largely on data – on invisible information harvested, searched, surveilled and acted on by corporations, governments, insurance companies, credit agencies and police departments – how are we to track it, let alone challenge it?

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