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Biopolitical Screens: Image, Power, and the Neoliberal Brain (Leonardo)

Biopolitical Screens: Image, Power, and the Neoliberal Brain (Leonardo)

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Publication Date: July 18th, 2014
The MIT Press
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An investigation of the aesthetics and politics of new visual media under twenty-first-century capitalism, from console games to virtual reality to video installation art.

In Biopolitical Screens, Pasi Väliaho charts and conceptualizes the imagery that composes our affective and conceptual reality under twenty-first-century capitalism. Väliaho investigates the role screen media play in the networks that today harness human minds and bodies—the ways that images animated on console game platforms, virtual reality technologies, and computer screens capture human potential by plugging it into arrangements of finance, war, and the consumption of entertainment. Drawing on current neuroscience and political and economic thought, Väliaho argues that these images work to shape the atomistic individuals who populate the neoliberal world of accumulation and war.

Väliaho bases his argument on a broad notion of the image as something both visible and sayable, detectable in various screen platforms but also in scientific perception and theoretical ideas. After laying out the conceptual foundations of the book, Väliaho offers focused and detailed investigations of the current visual economy. He considers the imagery of first-person shooter video games as tools of “neuropower”; explores the design and construction of virtual reality technologies to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan; and examines three instances of video installation art that have the power to disrupt the dominant regime of sensibility rather than reinforce it.

About the Author

Pasi Väliaho is Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Mapping the Moving Image: Gesture, Thought, and Cinema circa 1900.

Praise for Biopolitical Screens: Image, Power, and the Neoliberal Brain (Leonardo)

Biopolitical Screens is an important contribution to the study of visual culture, and a thought-provoking ride for those who want to understand how our screen-based lifestyles are affecting our society and our very brains, and how can we resist the most pernicious effects of this process.—Hans Rollman, PopMatters

Rooted in a view of images as animated and animistic life-forms (or viruses) in their own right, Valiaho has contributed one of the most trenchant and cohesive accounts available of our collective predicament. Biopolitical Screens has keyed in many of the most essential theoretical and historical vectors that still await their 'incredible mutation.'


Focusing on current issues and combining the most recent interdisciplinary tools to do so, this book is of the moment. It is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the intersection of images, politics, and media in 21st-century culture.