Berlin-based artist Hito Steyerl’s short film, How Not to Be Seen. A fucking didactic educational .MOV file (2013), takes the form of an educational video divided into five “lessons” on how to avoid surveillance. Defamiliarizing the vernacular form of an instructional video, How Not to Be Seen presents a situation in which, faced with omnipresent state-sponsored surveillance and violence, people are instructed in how to find relief from surveillance by shrinking themselves to become smaller than pixels—and in the process, becoming invisible.

In his genre-defining Theatre of the Absurd (2004 [1961]), Martin Esslin framed the Theatre of the Absurd as a contemporary aesthetic response to post–World War II disillusionment with social institutions, nations, and religion and as a response to ubiquitous violence. I propose that Steyerl’s How Not to Be Seen can be taken as a prime example of a contemporary absurdist aesthetic response that both reveals and responds...

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