Facial Recognition

The Wende Museum, Culver City, California
Saturday, December 12, 2015 - Friday, March 18, 2016

Bochmann CollectionAmong the Wende Museum’s special collections, the personal archive of Peter Bochmann dramatically stands out. Bochmann, the head of the passport division for border guards on the east side of Berlin’s “Checkpoint Charlie,” developed a system for facial recognition that was showcased at the border crossing in early November 1989, just days before the Berlin Wall came down. This exhibition presents Bochmann’s sketches, drawings, and portrait photos used for personal identification. Moreover, it investigates the history of facial recognition methods and their various applications since the late eighteenth century, focusing on (pseudo-)scientists like Johann Kaspar Lavater, Cesare Lombroso, Francis Galton, and Alphonse Bertillon. Finally, the exhibition addresses the topicality of facial recognition in our digital age and presents art projects by internationally acclaimed artists Zach Blas, Nancy Burson, Kathleen McDermott, and Leo Selvaggio, who with their work critically comment on the technology and its far-reaching consequences.