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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Louise Amoore

Amoore, L. (2009). Lines of sight: on the visualization of unknown futures. Citizenship Studies 13(1): 17-30.

Author(s) from Durham


This article considers the specific mode of visualization that is at work in contemporary border security practices. Taking inspiration from art historian Jonathan Crary's genealogies of attention, it situates homeland security visuality in a particular economy of attention or attentiveness to the world. How is it that we come to focus on some elements of our way of life, establish them as normal and designate deviations from the norm? How does this algorithmic attentiveness break up the visual field, 'pixelating' sensory data so that it can be reintegrated to project a picture of a person? The pre-emptive lines of sight emerging in contemporary security practice become precisely a means of visualizing unknown futures. The article concludes with reflections on the creative artistic forms of attention that flourish even where the lines of sight of the consumer, the citizen, the border guard, the traveller, the migrant appear ever more directed and delimited. It is in these more creative modes of attention that we find one of the most important resources to contemporary political life - the capacity to question the 'better picture', to disrupt what we see as ordinary or out of the ordinary and confront the routines of our lives anew.