The Cross-Media Aesthetics of Stealth (research seminar)

Panopticon

Over the last two decades, one can observe a considerable increase in the use of (public and private) surveillance technologies. The research seminar offered by Toni Pape introduces students to one specific response to this development: stealth. As opposed to surveillance, stealth foregrounds the attempt to remain imperceptible, to stay under the radar of the surveillance society.

As contemporary media arts have developed an aesthetic of surveillance, which foregrounds visibility and transparency, the aesthetics of stealth counters the dominant model of surveillance. The course explores this aesthetic complex in three major steps. First, we will look at important theorizations of surveillance. This will allow us to address the aesthetic of

surveillance on television and other media. In a second step, we will explore the established genre of the stealth action-adventure in video games. In this way, we will develop a concise working definition of stealth as a genre. The third part of the class will open this definition to a wider cross-media ecology including television, film, and smartphone apps. In this last section of the course, we will also explore the political and ethical stakes of stealth as an aesthetic phenomenon.