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Panopticon to Pinterest: A History of Surveillance

In 1791, When Jeremy Bentham designed the panopticon prison system, he considered it a mechanism of power that acted directly on individuals, granting its controller “the power of mind over mind.” In the panopticon prison “the apparent omnipresence of the inspector,” combined with “the extreme facility of his real presence” creates a perceived omnipresent, and omniscient figure. Formally homogenous to the human eye, the panopticon’s cells line the prison’s circular outer-walls, while the inspector’s tower, the iris, grants a 360° view of the space. The panopticon creates the illusion of constant surveillance, a living entity, or as Bentham describes it, “an artificial body.”
This panel uses the panopticon as a model for understanding the roles of modern surveillance systems and the strategies behind them. Additionally, the panel will guide you through the technological advances that have fueled the evolution of surveillance from the panopticon to the surveillance techniques of today.

Questions Answered

  1. What is Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon?
  2. How did Bentham's Panopticon set the stage for our modern surveillance systems?
  3. What are the differences between surveillance and voyeurism?
  4. How have databases changed the way surveillance has been captured and stored?
  5. What is Hitchcock's Rear Window about? Seriously.

Speakers

Organizer

Ceren Paydas Massachusetts College of Art and Design


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