On Illegibility

On Illegibility is a lecture performance on the politics of identification within biometric technology such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanners. The lecture scrutinizes the bias built into its algorithms, and ultimately how biometrics shape definitions of what a human being is. This lecture unpacks what it means to be legible in the eyes of the state and society, and looks into strategies of camouflage, masking and ambiguity built into “illegible” bodies and faces.

A facial recognition software shows the age, race and sex data of the performer live. Throughout the performance, the performer wears a mask of their own face, which they gradually manipulate past the point of recognition for both human or machine vision.

Facial recognition app developed by Stef Kors
On Illegibility is a commission by Sonic Acts
Photos by Katarzyna Perlak

Past Performances
1-10-2023: "The Side Eye", Das Leben am Haverkamp, The Hague NL
15-9-2022: Simultan Festival: The Changing and The Indeterminate, Timisoara RO
27-9-2019: Rokolectiv Festival, Bucharest RO
18-5-2019: BARTALK #15: Face, The Grey Space in The Middle, The Hague NL
3-2-2019: Eclipsing Festival, Links Hall, Chicago US
6-4-2018: WHITE/PINK/BROWN, Auto Italia, London UK
25-5-2018: "All Positions Depend", ACRE Projects, Chicago IL US
25-2-2018: On Illegibility premier, Sonic Acts Academy, Amsterdam NL

On Legibility (first version) performances:
2016: "The Mindless Identity of The World", Witte de With Contemporary Art, Rotterdam NL
2016: Tactical Media Connections, Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam NL
2016: Extrapool, Nijmegen NL
2016: Media Art Festival Friesland, Leeuwarden NL