Category Archives: visibility

The New Politics of Visibility — Edited Collection

UPDATE: Now on GoogleBooks – Preview of Introduction is available :


We’re at proofs stage. Due out later this year.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Issues in the Visible
Andrea Mubi Brighenti

1. The Political Geometries of Visibility: Ranks of Seeing in the Digital Age
Tali Hatuka

2. Coded Visions: Datafied Visibilities and the Production of Political Futures
Mikkel Flyverbom and Frederik Schade

3. Urban Information Environmentalism
Malcolm McCullough

4. Mediated Visibility and Recognition: A Taxonomy
João C. Magalhães and Jun Yu

5. The Democratization of Visibility Capital: Face in the Age of Its Automated Technical Reproducibility
Nathalie Heinich

6. Rewilding the City: Urban Life and Resistance across and beyond Visibility
AbdouMaliq Simone and Morten Nielsen

7. Strategies and Tactics of Visibility: The Micro- Politics of Vulnerable Migrant Groups during the Pandemic in Brussels
Mattias De Backer

8. Reframing Marginality in Trans Politics: Towards an Ethics of Differentiation
Caterina Nirta

9. Open Science as an Engine of Anxiety: How Scientists Promote and Defend the Visibility of Their Digital Selves, While Becoming Fatalistic about Academic Careers
Martin Reinhart


Mimicry: Understanding a social-natural phenomenon

An online seminar series co-organised with Carlo Brentari. Contact me to get the link for joining the seminar!


h.15-17 on

April 8 Carlo Brentari & Andrea Mubi Brighenti (Unitn, organisers) – Introduction & Glossary
April 15 Timo Maran (University of Tartu) – Biomimicry
April 22 Christian Borch (Copenhagen Business School)– Mimesis and Society
April 29 Petra Gruber (University of Akron) – Biomimesis and Biornametics in Architecture


Still from Harun Farocki : Computer Animation Rules, Lecture at IKKM, 25 June 2014, available at

Vertical Vision and Atmocultural Navigation. Notes on emerging Urban Scopic Regimes (with Andrea Pavoni)

Still from Harun Farocki : Computer Animation Rules, Lecture at IKKM, 25 June 2014, available at


NOW OUT in Visual Studies :


Abstract. This paper analyses vertical vision by tracing its possible genealogy and exploring the forms it takes in the contemporary city. In the first section, vertical vision is situated in the context of its cosmographic tenets. In the second section, the critique of verticality is complemented by a topological approach where vertical vision can be seen folding into a novel visual grammar. The lineaments of this grammar can be retrieved by attending specifically to algorithms and their role in contemporary urban perception, which we discuss in the third section. The fourth section implements the suggestions of two artists: Harun Farocki’s notion of navigation, and Hito Steyerl’s notion of bubble vision. Exposing the central role played by digital platforms in ushering in this novel paradigm, bubble vision can be reconstructed as the logical end-point of classical vertical vision. This comes in conjunction with the rise of peculiar visual-cultural configuration, which could be called ‘atmoculture’. Section five submits that atmoculture represents the cultural milieu of bubble vision. In conclusion, the paper invites visual scholars interested in the study of verticality to recognise bubble vision, together with its atmocultural background, as a new expression, and a reconfiguration, of vertical vision: similarly centred and disembodied, exhilarating, and dangerously de-responsibilising.

pdf version


The social life of measures

Now published in Theory, Culture & Society 35(1)



Issues of measure and measurement, and their relation to value and values, are of concern in several major threads in contemporary social theory and social research. In this paper, the notion of ‘measure-value environments’ is introduced as a theoretical lens through which the life of measures can be better understood. A number of points are made which represent both a continuation and a slight change in emphasis vis-à-vis the existing scholarship. First, it is argued that the relation between measure and value is necessarily circular – better, entangled. Second, a conceptualisation of measures as territorialising devices is advanced. Third, importance is given to the fact that measures are not simply tools in our hands, they are also environments in which we live. Fourth, attention is drawn to the fact that the unit (n=1) is not just a quantitative happening among others, but is qualitatively distinct.

The Social Life of Measures (pre-print version)


The Visible: Element of the Social

Now Published in Frontiers in Sociology | Sociological Theory


Abstract. In the context of a social-theoretical take on the link between social life and visibility, this paper invites to shift the focus from visibility phenomena to “the visible”. A theory of visibility, it is submitted, must be constructed as a theory of the medium. In opposition to visibility as a set of formal relations, what the visible brings to the fore is the existence of a mid-term, a connective tissue. Also, if a theory is a prelude to a science, then a theory is needed that makes possible to measure the visible in itself. The development of an “intrinsic” theory of the visible, one capable of generating its own variables and constants, along with the conceptual space for their articulation, is retrieved through the joint contributions of surface theories (Simmel, Goffman, Portmann) and intensity theories (Deleuze, Thom). The piece presents a set of notions that could be of use to analyze the fiber of the visible and the trajectories occurring in the visible, in view of laying out a series of laws of the visible.

Available at :

& a Related Lecture:

Social Camouflage: Functions, Logic, Paradoxes (with Alessandro Castelli)

Now published in Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory

Fixing the Shadow / Beyond the Law (1992)
Fixing the Shadow / Beyond the Law (1992)

Abstract. Camouflage is usually understood as a type of deceitful communication
strategy in the animal and human domains. In this piece, we invite scholars to consider how the phenomenon of camouflage, while certainly grounded in antagonism and selection, might exceed its strategic meaning. Using the case of undercover agents movies, we attempt to flesh out the inner logic of camouflage and the type of social-existential situations it gives shape to. Exploring the mundane practical problem of ‘infiltration’ into a social group or social milieu, the article zooms in onto the experience of camouflage and highlights its relatedness to and distinction from imitation. Camouflage is here used not as an overarching interpretive category, rather, as an instance that reveals something about the problems inherent in the constitution of inter-subjective life. The article seeks to contribute to a theoretical development in the study of social logic and social teleology, stressing the curious entanglement of deliberate strategic action and irrational desire that contradistinguishes what could be called the ‘aberrant conjunction’ of the camoufleur and its target. Camouflage, we conclude, is not only about make-believe but also, crucially, about desiring and learning to desire.

Keywords: Mimicry, Camouflage, Undercover movies, Infiltration, Social logic, Social phenomenology, Inter-Subjectivity

The Functions of Camouflage
The Logic of Camouflage
The Existential Phenomenology of Camouflage
The Paradoxes of Camouflage, or, Learning to Desire

Social Camouflage-FIN+pics  (50 free downloads)