Performing Imperceptibility: Google Street View and the Tableau Vivant

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Chris Ingraham Allison Rowland


When Google introduced its Street View technology in 2007, by taking panoramic photographs of ordinary street scenes around the globe, it brought us one step closer to the dystopian reality of universal surveillance. In response to Google's roving camera, some people have staged street-side performances in hopes of being photographed and uploaded online. We think of these performances as contemporary iterations of the historical performance genre known as the tableau vivant: “living images” that resist biopolitical control by “performing imperceptibility.” Drawing upon Rosi Braidotti’s nomadic ethics and Jon McKenzie’s general theory of performance, we argue that the tableau vivant staged for Street View cameras subvert the dividuation of control societies by affirming, through their affective intensity, the possibility of enduring as a subject.

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Author Biographies

Chris Ingraham, North Carolina State University

Chris Ingraham is an Assistant Professor of Communication at North Carolina State University. 

Allison Rowland, Saint Lawrence University

Allison Rowland is an Assistant Professor of Performance and Communication Arts at Saint Lawrence University.