Monday, 26 March 2012

Task 1 : Panopticism

Choose an example of one aspect of contemporary culture that is, in your opinion, panoptic. Write an explanation of this, in approximately 200-300 words, employing key Foucauldian language, such as 'Docile Bodies' or 'self-regulation, and using not less than 5 quotes from the text 'Panopticism' in Thomas, J. (2000) 'Reading Images', NY, Palgrave McMillan.

In this day and age you can't walk to your local shop without being recorded on CCTV, I'm recorded too and from college on my journey, and recorded on the college camera's throughout the duration of my day. Surveillance camera's are a modern Panoptic method,  CCTV has one purpose no matter the context, that being to monitor behavior. When you see a camera in the street you automatically change your body language and behavior because you suddenly become more self conscious of your actions. 'Surveillance is based on a system of permanent registration' (Michel Foucault, Discipline and punish.) CCTV is an anonymous measure of control, and an omniscient power that keeps people from acting out in everyday life. Constant recognition of camera's and the thought of being watched alters and changes the way you act and behave, over a longer duration of time you become disciplined to the rules of the surveillance camera. 'The utopia of the perfectly governed city' is a society who obey the power of the CCTV camera on an individual level.

Alike to the Panopticon CCTV plays with the perception of visibility. We are lead to believe we are being watched when often just the illusion of being watched can force us to control the way we act. Signage and imitation CCTV units put out the message we are being watched giving us a false sense that we are under surveillance.  "[he] is seen, but [he] does not see; [he] is the object of information, never a subject in communication" I think the fear of being caught for your actions and the consequences you could face, knowing fully that they are recorded puts you in a state of apprehension. CCTV is a mechanism that "automizes and disindividualizes" us.

CCTV cameras act as a constant visible reminder to us that we are under surveillance, a relationship of power between the subject and the viewer. Alike to the Prisoner and the Guard in the Panopticon people are "caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers." We become a custom to the fact we are being watched.

There is a big controversy in the act of videoing somebody who is videoing you. If you're stopped by a policeman with a hands free camera where do you're rights stand in filming him for you're own safety. When riots break out and the tables are turned when police brutality is captured on camera phones we are reminded that the camera captures everything. The camera becomes a threat and invasion of our personal privacy, linking back to CCTV this threat of being under surveillance is a way of training society to conform to a certain way of living.

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