Are we misunderstanding the security relevance of networked digital images if we only study what they show instead of what they are, and what they do in security practice?

The post-visual security project investigates the more-than-visual qualities of digital images, and shows through empirical studies how digital images in contemporary security practice do much more than show things. The project proceeds from the hypothesis that by looking at the roles networked digital images play in security politics and practice, it is possible to understand not only the features of digital images that make them important to security, but also how security politics and practice is reconfigured by networked digital images.

The project develops the theoretical innovation ‘post-visual security’ to understand the security practices digital images enable. This concept integrates an understanding of digital images as post-visual with an understanding of security practice built on the more-than-visual qualities of digital images – for example their standardization and metadata. The project uses this concept to provide new empirical knowledge about the role of post-visuality in security and conflict, and to develop tools and methods that use the more-than-visual qualities of digital images to open up new ways of studying security politics and practice.

To achieve these goals, the project proceeds along three research streams that organise a total of ten work packages. Research stream 1 analyses post-visual technologies at the development stage. Here we are doing fieldwork with and interviewing developers of computer vision, automated forms of recognition, and visual forensics. If you are a developer or forensic analyst interested in security please get in touch with us. Research stream 2 investigates post-visual security technologies at the stage of application for security purposes focusing on the affordances of traceability and computability. We talk to for example police departments and airport officials using face recognition, and are always interested in hearing from people using visual decision support technologies to scan large amounts of images. Finally, the transversal research stream 3: Post-visual security theory and method takes its inputs from all project activities to deliver the theorisation of post-visual security and the methods for studying it.