Key words: the control of information, the power derived from observation, comment on observation, diagrams of mechanism, counter power
In Faucout and Deluze’s text, there are different schema of power in societies at different time been explained. They went through the shifting ways of observation through these diagrams. The panopticon (Jeremy Bentham, 1791) [] is an architecture consists of a circular structure with an “inspection house” at its centre, and other cells around the perimeter. It allows a single watchman to observe inmates without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. It is a strict schema of confinement and enclosure with one-way gaze originating from central towel, accompanying by capacity to use force if the rule is disobeyed that ensure its power. It is not the only the model of prison but also the model of army, school, hospital, factory. It is a primary instance of discipline society. Faucout analysed the enclosed environment, distributed in space. What is different here compare to an architecture, is that it is no longer built simply to be seen, or to observe the external space, but to permit an internal with articulated and detailed control. Faucout illustrated this with examples of hospital buildings. Calculation of openings, filled and empty spaces, passages and transparencies, they were made to allow a better observation. School building, the military camp and so forth are in the same case. Thus the individuals in these enclosures would be rendered visible enough in order to be treated, to be transformed, to be trained. In this way those enclosed spaces were gradually organised as instrument. In discipline society, it is the polarized visibility that assures its mechanism and each gaze would form a part of the overall function of power. What’s more as Deluze said, we are now in a generalised crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure. What if the observation becomes a mass campaign, will information gathering affect on the mechanism of society.
In How little we know of our neighbours by Revecca Baron, during the Mass Observation movement, people starts to record everyday life anonymously. After hand-hold cameras being available easily, the cameras termed “detective cameras” waited to photograph the unawares. It was a progressive movement that used surveillance. “They believed that if you could show people a picture of themselves as they really were, then they could make decisions and changes in their lives” Again in a way they illustrated observation manipulate person, as it does in panopticon. At initial stage mass observation is like a naive movement. But then after World War II broke out, mass observation participants were recruited by the Ministry of Information to act as civilian spies. Afterwards, mass observation became a market research firm. Observation is taken as a certain form of instrument in different time period. It could be done by a single watchman, citizen spies or surveillance cameras, etc. Information gathering “devolve into a project of mastery”. It is a mastery of information in order to fulfil the exercise of authority’s power. In many scenes of White Bear from Black Mirror, people run around shooting with the cameras of their mobile phones. The mass become the majority master the information and shooting the only one. The only observation serve as an “indifferent” behaviour now becomes a kind of punishment. Although it is not that only the few master the information but still they are the authority and they are being ruled in the “justice park”, which function more like in discipline society.
In societies of control, Deleuze pointed out the institutions that once form as discipline societies are finished, and now they are in the process of reformation and transition. These are societies of control. People eased to be ruled in certain time-space, not in hospital, factory, school or family, but maybe in several or all of them at the same time. The society of control is in accelerated rhythm of reforms. Informations are digitalised and deterritorialized thanks to the third type of machine that we use. This technological evolution must be a mutation of capitalism, which it often relegates to the Third World in present situation. It's a capitalism of higher-oder production and the factory has given way to the corporation. Marketing has become he center or the "soul" of the corporation. “The conception of a control mechanism, giving the position of any element within an open environment at any given instant”. As Deleuze said it’s no need to be afraid about it but to think about how to create our own counter power.
Surveillance cameras in nowadays are so easily to access. Artists also make use of surveillance image, or work on the process of surveillance. Steve Mann, a media artist coined the term sousveillance as inverse surveillance which makes use of surveillance technology such as webcam from the perspective of the participant, allowing the object of surveillance essentially to become the subject. It’s a artistic method as counter power. Like in Hasan Elahi’s work, he broadcasted his daily life since he was falsely suspected of terrorism and detained by government authorities. He said that the goal of broadcasting is to devalue information about him. Thus “by increasing access to the information, he is taking away the surveilling authority’s monopoly on it.“ []
In The Waldo Show, in a way I consider Waldo, the blue cartoon bear, as a counter power by commenting on the observation. It is controlled by a comedian in real time under a team effort. It draw attention from public by commenting a politician and reflect on politic issues through the mouth of a cartoon character. The public like Waldo even though they know it is not a real but somehow talks in a realer way. But It grows bigger afterwards, driven by the market. The comedian tries to resign by yelling in public “do not vote for Waldo” but I assume it enhance its popular among people, and the team want to make it fit the taste of the public.
The Means of Correct Training – Foucault
Postscript on the Societies of Control - Gilles Deleuze
Peter Weir - Truman Show 1998
Black mirror - White bear
Black Mirror - Waldo Moment
Still Moving: Between Cinema and PhotographyAug 27, 2008 by Karen Beckman and Jean Ma