In Mati Diop’s film Atlantics (France/Senegal/Belgium, 2019), images of people holding, using, and disposing of cell phones knit together scenes of attenuated social reproduction. In this essay, I take those images as the basis for a theory of interfaces. In so doing, I connect some of the principal concerns of media theory to the social operations—of labor, of social reproduction, and of racialized, gendered, and sexuated valuation—that collectively enact the expanded reproduction of capital. From the perspective of those operations, media technologies such as cell phones become intelligible as elements in a determinate form of society: not only interfaces in themselves but also elements in an expansive, emergent, and (apparently) self-regulating network of interfaces.

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