Restructuring Digital Panopticism Proposal

Restructuring Digital Panopticism Proposal

I am interested in Michel Foucault’s theories of panopticism where he regarded Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon not only as a design for a prison but as a control mechanism that could be implemented all across society through methods of surveillance and constant observation leading to the population being more complicit and self regulating. While Foucault in “Discipline and Punish”, wrote about the carceral and how its disciplinary mechanisms or what he referred to as apparatus were replicated and used throughout society through interconnected institutions such as prisons, mental homes factories, and schools to a point that the mechanisms became almost invisible. Giorgio Agamben in his essay “What is an Apparatus”, argued to extend Foucault’s list of apparatus’s to include anything which had the ability to capture and control the individual for example computers and mobile phones. This led me to the question about how the theory of panopticism although originally based on physical institutions and visible mechanisms transforms into the digital world and manifests itself as fluid and invisible whereby people are looking at information on computers, while being watched themselves through means of surveillance leaving a trail through web browsing which is then picked up by marketers, Facebook and used to send them shopping suggestions.

Based on the concept of Siva Viadhyanathan’s, “Cryptopicon”, where he speaks of the rise of networks as a form of processing power used by companies to collect data and that people are always watching on the web but the fundamental difference from the panopticon is we don’t know who is watching or what ways they are watching now?

I aim to use and harness the architecture of the carceral archipelago and panopticism as a series of interlinked networks utilising the notion of the surveillant and the surveilled and to highlight their uses in establishing a dialogue of communication within an interactive platform.

To build on a multi disciplinary art practice, which infuses theory with professional practice and for the digital artefact to create an interactive web platform that not only serves as an artist website but also as an archive.

While looking at artist websites, a lot have a familiar layout of biography, artist statement, education/ exhibition record and pictures of work, although some may have detailed information on certain projects and related documentation such as press releases or reviews. Usually the websites consist of separate pages acting as individual entities with little or no connection between for example an artist may have multi-disciplinary in their statement and then have separate pages for painting, sculpture and new media but then have no information about how these disciplines integrate and inform each other to build a diverse practice and similarly no information about linage of how work developed or what artists or theorists informed the process.

To this effect I propose to construct a multi functioning website that rather than just show different pictures of work instead to highlight how I’ve drawn multiple disciplines together into complex bodies of work, and making visible the background histories and how I have synthesised theory into the work.

I found Roopika Risam’s theories of intersectionality interesting and applicable to the idea as she talks about not viewing issues within Digital Humanities as separate entities but instead looking for where they overlap and connect.

One aspect of the platform would be mirror the idea of the carceral as a network and reflected on a modern day version as the internet and then portrayed as an interactive world map, which would incorporate links to galleries and countries, which I have exhibited in, and also a timeline, which viewers could see along with photos and videos of exhibition, press release and archived material.

The other aspect of the artefact would be to explore effective ways of documenting and representing work, while pictorial and video pieces can be transferred to digital mediums and rendered accurately, problems arise when documenting immersive installations and projected imagery. Since recording these events transforms the medium and they just appear as a film and when shown on a computer or screen, the audience loses all the immersive aspect and also the context as this transforms also.

To counter this I intend to explore ways in which to bring installations and multiple projections and 3D material into virtual reality and examine how they would translate into the medium.

As an installation is a simulated space and only exists for a short time i.e. the length of the exhibition and is fixed to a location which restricts people from other parts of the world seeing it or experiencing it, what artefact would aim to do is make virtual reality installations which would be readily accessible to a greater audience.

It would appeal to people interested in art, as it would give them an opportunity to see artists working practice and how ideas are formed and manifested into an artwork, but also to illuminate the theoretical approach behind them and how they feed into and inform the work. Galleries and curators would also be interested as rather than viewing a snapshot of an artist and their practice they could access in one place a fully comprehensive archive consisting of an in-depth profile of an artist and their output.

Researchers with interests in interdisciplinary/cross disciplinary practice and their methodologies.

Tools I envisage using Final Cut for film, logic Pro for audio

Omeka and Scalar for archiving exhibitions and associated content from each exhibition or project such as press releases, reviews, and links

Tiltbrush, open simulator and oculus, using a variety of tools to complement each other and create a fully immersive space.

Neatline for mapping a visualisation showing galleries and locations all around the world where I have exhibited, interactive to also have a link to associated data.

Develop methods Archiving of my work but also placing it into relevant contexts, where people could browse through each section along with the academic debates and associated literature.

What it might look like an interactive platform, linking research with art practice and the history and debates around them.

For example clicking on location

Carriglea, Monkstown, Co. Dublin would reveal the history of the former Industrial School, links to installations there and exhibitions on site.

Manor House, London: They’ve taken our Ghettos exhibition, regeneration of area and its impact on local community.

Kilternan, the impact of regeneration on the environment, i.e.. A huge abandoned unfinished hotel, conference centre and apartment complex in countryside, films

A platform that acts as a two way process, whereby the virtual reality exhibition could then be transferred to real life large spaces, reusability (Gibbs)



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Vaidhyanathan, S., 2012. The Googlization of everything:(and why we should worry). Univ of California Press.

Vaidhyanathan, S., 2005. The anarchist in the library: How the clash between freedom and control is hacking the real world and crashing the system. Basic Books.

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Zuboff, S., 2017. Master or Slave? : The Fight for the Soul of our Information Civilisation. Public Affairs. U.S.

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