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PanopticonPanoptic essentially means all seeing Pan(All)Optic(Seeing)In 1785 philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham designed the panopticon, a prison which allowed the guards to observe all the prisoners from a central point without the prisoner knowing whether or not they were being
PanoptisismThe panopticon building was a twelve sided polygon, its internal and external walls were made of glass. The central tower was pierced with windows that allowed a view of every cell placing the prisoner in a state of conscious and permanent visibility. The panopticon illustrates the power of the seer - seen relationship. Creating a ‘brutal dissymmetery of visibility’The relationship provides the ‘unseen seer’ with a sense of omnipotent voyeurism and disciplines the seen by the fact that they are in permanent visibility.The power of the panopticon was that the prisoners were objects of an imagined gaze, it was not the fact they could be seen it was the feeling that they were always being seen whether or not they were which controlled
PanoptisismFrench philosopher Michel Foucault saw the panopticon as an ideal architectural model of modern disciplinary power.He described the power of the panopticon in Disipline and Punish:“He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power.... he becomes the principle of his own subjection.”For Foucault this was not just an efficient piece of architectural design but ‘the diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form’ power and discipline which is automated, self discipline.
PanoptisismFor Foucault it was the act of disciplining society through unseen and subtle ways, which the panopticon stood for, which was of importance, how schools, police forces, hospitals etc discipline us by forms of surveillance and classification. Though Bentham never built the panopticon it has certainly been influential both in the was other buildings have been built and also in how power operates.Consider the manner in which the following advert operates.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKWtife5BqA
SurveillanceBritain is now the most surveilled nation on earth in terms of CCTVIn 2003 there were reported to be 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain: one for every fourteen people.Each day we are estimated to be captured on over three hundred cameras During the 1990s the Home Office spent 78% of it crime prevention budget on installing CCTV, an estimated £500MDavid Murakami Wood - Surveillance Society Report- Click to downloadInterestingly the power of the panopticon may be failing as the home office has reported that CCTV has done little to impact on crime rates. What
SurveillanceThe extent of our surveillance clearly doesnt stop with CCTV, how else are monitored and classified each day?
SurveillanceWith google looking after our email, hosting our videos, pictures, blogs, conversations, diaries, knowing where we’ve been and what we watch, read and buy, where we are planning on going, in the future perhaps holding our medical records some people may feel uneasy about the huge amount of information that google hold, in response to this Google has released Google Dashboard which lists some of the information google holds about the Google services that you use and aims to answer the question "What does Google know about me?".How much information do we trade each day and for what?How far is this satirical sketch from the onion to where we are? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMChO0qNbkY#
SousveillanceSousveillance can be seen as the opposite of surveillance or a form of inverse surveillance where individuals monitor those in power.This can take the form of feedback “how am I driving” stickers or student feedback forms or in the more direct form of counter surveillance such as protestors filming police.The advances in mobile phones are making this kind of activity the norm, with the ability to not only photograph or film on our phone but the ability to upload those films and photographs to you tube, twitpic etc almost instantly.Regardless of who is surveying who the panoptic model still holds, the knowledge that we could be being monitored or observed at any time acts to change our behaviour. With regards to social networking sites what effect
Surveillance ArtThe rise in surveillance in modern society has seen a number of artists and media collectives introduce the tools and technologies of surveillance into their work.David Valentine video artist and member of grass roots media initiative MediaShed creates and coordinates community media projects which highlight the rise in surveillance culture in the UK.Video Sniffin is a series of short films where young people hacked a series of wireless cctv camera’s in the area and used the cameras to shoot a short film placing the viewer and participants of the film in the role of the panoptic viewer. Another david valentine piece which follows this theme is The Duellists(2007) which was shot using only the CCTV network of 160 cameras in Manchesters Arndale centre. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Surveillance ArtLondon Based Austrian artist Manu Luksch also addresses issues of surveillance and data protection in her work.Faceless made under Luksch’s Manifesto for CCTV ﬁlmmakers is a science fiction filmed from public CCTV cameras with the footage being requested under the Data Protection Act. The film is narrated by Tilda Swinton and has been shown internationally. Mapping CCTV aroundhttp://www.youtube.com/watch? Whitehall a 2 part exercise to v=yLzJCeGYgbg map CCTV cameras around Whitehall, London, within a
Surveillance ArtTrevor Paglen is an American artist, geographer, and author who’s work uses forms of surveillance to explore the work of the American Military.Work has included a database tracking cia planes, photography of hidden military bases and exposing code names of thousands of classified military programshttp://www.paglen.com/pages/projects.htmAlso see Marco Peljan’s work
Further ReadingSTURKEN, M., & CARTRIGHT, L. 2001. Practices of Looking- AnIntroduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Mirzoeff, N., The Visual Culture Reader, 2008 RoutledgeFoucault, M., Discipline and Punish 1975The Statistics of CCTV http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8159141.stmCCTV Boom Fails to cut Crime http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7384843.stmSousveillance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sousveillance