Saturday, 26 January 2013

OUGD501 // Study Task 3 // Panopticism

CCTV is a panoptic device that is seen in our contemporary culture today. CCTV is the use of video cameras that are used to monitor is specific area, this would normally be around commercial buildings and some homes. CCTV is seen as a way to control people because they act differently when they see a CCTV camera in a certain place.

The use of CCTV is seen as a panoptic device because it is used to constantly watch people and to monitor everyday life, but is this a good thing? Will this constant surveillance actually help society?

"Full lighting and the eye of a supervisor capture better than darkness, which ultimately protected. Visibility is a trap."

Thomas, J explains how visibility and being watched cannot always be a good thing in his book 'reading images’
We can also say that CCTV is a way of disciplining and controlling society. It acts as a second pair of eyes that are always watching you and making sure you are doing what you should be doing. Faucault explains that everyone in society has a role and should obey to this. The CCTV cameras are a way of making sure everybody is in line and doing this.

“The assignment to each individual of his ‘true’ name, his ‘true’ place, his ‘true’ body, his ‘true’ disease”
Here Faucault is saying that everyone in society has there own role, they should work within this role and do everything as themselves. What they do is there doing and their responsibility. You can see that discipline is being introduced.

Throughout Faucaults reading of ‘Discipline & Punish’ he refers to the panopticon, this is a building, which has been used as prisons and other criminal offence buildings in the past due to their self-correcting abilities. These buildings were set out so every inmate had their own cell, but it was in a circular shaped building, so every cell was facing the center, in the center there would be a guard tower, in which the guards would watch over the inmates, but there wasn’t always guards in there, which the inmates thought there was. With the inmates knowing that they were being constantly watched it made them act differently and behave because they didn’t want the guards to see them. As time went on less guards would be in the tower and it would be empty the majority of the time. But the inmates still thought they were being watched, making them behave.
"They are like so many cages, so many small theaters, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visible".
This is how Faucault describes the panopticon and the inmates within it. You can relate this concept to CCTV. Except instead of controlling one inmate in one cell, CCTV is a device to try and control crowds of people.

"The crowd, a compact mass, a locus of multiple exchanges, individualities merging together, a collective effect, is abolished (by the panopticon) and replaced by a collection of separated individualities".

We can still make the comparison of CCTV and the Panopticon. Similar to the Panopticon, the public know that CCTV cameras are around the streets and on buildings which are watching everything they are doing, so they don’t want to step out of line or doing anything they shouldn’t. This makes the public behave in a manor that the government want them to do without them actually having to do anything. This is the same concept as the Panopticon.
The ideal of the Panopticon is that anyone can imply the power and make the changes, it doesn’t have to be somebody that has high power or be of an government figure.
As Faucault describes 
“any individual, taken almost at random, can operate the machine”
The machine refers to the idea of physically controlling a person or crowd. This shows that anyone can control the Panopticon and put power in place, just like anyone can have a CCTV camera and use it to control the people around them and the society in general.

Faucault explains that people musn’t think of the Panopticon as a building, but as a diagram of power.
“ But the panopticon must not be understood as a dream building: it is the diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form; its functioning, abstracted from any obstacle, resistance or friction”

We can say the same about CCTV cameras, they are a symbol of power. The government use them to control the society and in doing this it makes people self regulate themselves and become what Faucault would call ‘docile bodies’.

CCTV creates 'Docile Bodies' as we are under constant observation which disciplines and controls us so we act exactly how the government wants us to act. This shows that CCTV are a modern version of the Panopticon and is panoptic device of todays modern society.

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