Images becoming documents: Tracing the uses of visual technologies in Finnish passports
The passport is a social document par excellence: it is used for identification, social sorting and deciding who can pass borders. Visual technologies play an integral part in ensuring the passport bearer’s identity, and thus the self-sameness between body and document. In this talk, I will focus on historical developments in the use of visual technologies in passports, showing how photography continues to play an integral part in order to decide upon elemental aspects of our everyday: Who is allowed to enter, and who not? Who will be questioned further, and who may pass? And last but not least, what are the matters that our focus of attention are turned towards?
Asko Lehmuskallio is a scholar in visual studies with a particular interest in the interrelations between bodies, technologies, and visual cultures. He serves as Associate Professor in New Social Research at Tampere University, and has held positions as Rudolf Arnheim Guest Professor at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, as well as visiting scholar at Sussex Humanities Lab and UC Berkeley. His publications include Digital Photography and Everyday Life (2016, co-ed), Mobile Digital Practices (2017, co-ed) and Entanglements between bodies and documents: A history of the Finnish passport (2020, in Finnish, with Paula Haara). He has also co-curated the exhibitions #snapshot (2014-15) and Inscribing the body (2020), both at the Finnish Museum of Photography.