Recorded visual media are the most prolific form of evidence in the legal system today, given the avalanche of images generated from an expanding array of sources: camera phones, laptop cameras, body-worn cameras, closed-circuit television systems, satellites, camera-mounted drones and manned aircraft. From investigations of petty street crime to major human rights violations, traces captured in video recordings promise to provide evidence for establishing factual accounts and building ironclad legal cases. Of course, visual media rarely stand on their own as self-evident incrimination or exoneration, and the evidentiary value of images continues to depend on much that is external to images themselves. In this talk, I consider the field of forensic video analysis as a key site for understanding the problems of visual evidence in the context of an unprecedented proliferation of visual media. I use cases and interviews with forensic video analysts to explore the complex issues arising in this field, and discuss the efforts of this emerging community of expertise to define its boundaries and authority.
Kelly Gates is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and the Science Studies Program at University of California, San Diego. Gates specializes in the study of surveillance, digital media, and visual culture, from an analytical perspective that bridges science and technology studies and cultural and media studies. Her first book, Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance, is a critical-cultural study of the automation of facial recognition and facial expression analysis, focusing on the applications of these experimental systems in policing, security, social media and affect measurement. The book examines the forces shaping and propelling these technologies, and challenges assumptions about their inevitable perfection. In her current research, Gates is investigating the emerging professional field of forensic video analysis, looking at the ways in which new visual imaging and archiving technologies are being incorporated into, and transforming, modern investigatory and evidentiary practices. This project examines the cultural and media labor that the police perform, and the forms of expertise they acquire, in their roles as surveillance workers and media analysts.
For those attending the lecture, there will be a cocktail reception in the Forum from 5:15-6:15pm.
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