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SXSW Interactive 2014

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.

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Ceren Paydas, Visual Artist / Graduate Student, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Meta Information:

  • Tags: surveillance
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Privacy and Security
  • Level: Intermediate
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