Heretical facial machines, or the ambivalence of faciality in the politics of digital dissent of Anonymous

Micali, Alberto (2017) Heretical facial machines, or the ambivalence of faciality in the politics of digital dissent of Anonymous. In: Fear and Loathing of the Online Self – A Savage Journey into the Heart of Digital Cultures, 22-23 May, 2017, John Cabot University, Rome.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Deploying heterogeneous media actions under a shared moniker is one of the key aspects of the digital resistances of Anonymous. The multiple-use name of Anonymous implies a radical, collective form of subjectivity that allows minor processes of subjectivation, guaranteeing the continual proliferation of differences (Deseriis). Accordingly, Anonymous connects to a longer lineage that had opposed the emergence of always-novel power relations, but this time confronting with the mass distribution of digital networks. Furthermore, Anonymous deploys its media resistances under a common face/mask, which signals the decisive involvement of processes of faciality in its active media resistances. The process of making (or ‘dis-making’) a face – or faciality (visagéité) – is a political affair, since despotisms hierarchically originate faces with the objective of separating from otherness and defining themselves (Deleuze and Guattari).
The employment of a common visage – the white face with black moustaches – in Anonymous is a heretical stratagem. It is the attempt to turn around despotic facial machines without taking a reactive path that returns to pre-modern, idyllic collective facial traits. However, this is a very ambivalent process too: it allows the reformation of asymmetries, which are key to strike distributed power nodes, but it equally entails specific power relations, because the many forces at play are caught under one leading face. This paper discusses the politics of digital dissent of Anonymous arguing that its potency of active resistance resides precisely in the ambivalent attempt to originate a refraining point, a temporary crystallisation that stratagematically operates as a fixation of heterogeneous assemblages: a face/mask that allows the (un)stable manifestation and deployment of various media actions, a face/mask that is able to let multiplicity swarm and combine within the possible creative outputs that are continually originated.

Keywords:faciality, facial machines, Anonymous, hacktivism, Deleuze and Guattari, digital resistance, media dissent
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:27885
Deposited On:18 Jul 2017 18:08

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