Surveillance is the monitoring of behaviour, activities, or other changing information for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting people.
Surveillance is used by governments for intelligence gathering, prevention of crime, the protection of a process, person, group or object, or the investigation of crime.
Surveillance can be viewed as a violation of privacy, and as such is often opposed by various civil liberties groups and activists.
The gaze describes the act of seeing and the act of being seen.
Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) developed the concept of the gaze to illustrate the dynamics of socio-political power relations and the social dynamics of society’s mechanisms of discipline.
In Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, the gaze is the anxious state of mind that comes with the self-awareness that one can be seen and looked at. The psychological effect upon the person subjected to the gaze is a loss of autonomy upon becoming aware that he or she is a visible object. Lacan extrapolated that the gaze and the effects of the gaze might be produced by an inanimate object (monitor/CCTV?), and thus a person’s awareness of any object can induce the self-awareness of also being an object in the material world of reality. The philosophic and psychologic importance of the gaze is in the meeting of the face and the gaze because only there do people exist for one another.
It is difficult to describe, but I think I am more interested in the gaze, which provides a more philosophical and societal perspective way to discuss issues such as human subjectivity and discipline principle. In other words, rather than talking about the relationship between technology and something, I would like to use technological tools to discuss a cross-discipline subject. Technology is a means to me.
I came up with some questions.
Hell is other people or Heaven is other people?
Two of my friends give the opposite answer to the same situation (watched by people). A feels nervous but B enjoys the feeling of being looked at.
B: I seem to like those very formalistic things and things that are expressed under the lights. For example, I like dancing. Not only the dance itself but also a lot of people watching me under the spotlight. Once these spotlights are taken away and when I found nobody cares my life, I feel like that I have nothing particular interested.
Hell is other people.
The quote comes at the close of the play No Exit (Huis Clos, in French) which Sartre wrote in 1943. No Exit depicts the arrival of three characters – Garcin, Estelle, and Inez – in hell – which happens to be a drawing room. As the characters struggle to understand what sin has led them to hell, and what their punishment may be, they quickly gather that there is no torturer. No executioner. No flames to burn their souls eternally. It’s just the three of them, trapped in a deadlock. The other characters in the room are the punishment, as it were. The full version of the quote highlights this illustration of Sartre’s existentialist philosophy.
For Sartre, shame is the original feeling brought on by the realization of the existence of others. Sartre uses the example of looking through a keyhole, an act that – according to Sartre – induces a thrill because of the thought that someone might realize that I – the peeper – am looking through the keyhole. In that moment, one sees oneself as other people would see the me: as an object. Shame, in other words, is the shame of oneself in the gaze of the other. It is the crushing realization that I am little more to others than the physical manifestation of my body in their sight. And here intervenes the online code of the game: I am as the number called in bingo, I may not be recalled once I have been pulled out and seen by everyone.
What’s the difference between gazed by artificial eyes and by people?
What can an environment with potential eyes at any time give birth to?
Which one makes you more uncomfortable, being gazed by a group of people or a group of machines?
This is the question I asked my friends. Most of them say they would rather be stared by machines because
- eye contact makes people nervous
- eye contact can convey information
- social distance
Overall, stared by people is more uncomfortable (both physically and mentally), but stared by machine is more dangerous.
Also, I talked to Jon Wozencroft who is a senior tutor in RCA Visual Communication during my interview. He introduced me with a very interesting brief and inspired me a lot. The veil in the wedding represents youth and purity, but Muslim women use the veil as being a barrier between the individual wearing it and the person she is trying to communicate with. If we think our screen as a ‘modern veil’, how to design a screen that symbolised something and protects us from being monitored at the same time?
keywords: virtual identity / reflection
The Panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all the inmates’ cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times. Thus, they are effectively compelled to regulate their own behaviour.
In Étant donnés there is nothing that is fixed to the canvas, wood or wall. It is only the onlooker who can ‘fix’ the picture (or the painting). Therefore, the work has no sense or meaning without the onlooker. The picture (or the painting) only exists in the mind of the onlooker. Since there is no common or set image fixed anywhere, there cannot be any common interpretation.
Étant donnés can thus be seen as an extreme alternative to the self-absorbed abstract painting. The abstract painting had turned its back on the onlooker and blocked its own traditional function as a medium, and thus cut itself off from its own onlooker’s insight or interpretation.
The performance consisted of the interaction between two policemen mounted on horseback and museum visitors who happened to be on the Turbine Hall bridge. The officers were members of London’s Metropolitan Police and they exercised crowd control techniques on the accidental assembly, corralling people, splitting them into smaller groups and so on.
Created entirely from hundreds of hours of downloadable Chinese surveillance footage. Xu Bing’s innovative editing together of footage found online and Hanno Yoshihiro’s score, which ranges across sentimental Chinese pop and foreboding electro, is an attempt to illuminate the relationship between the people being watched and the machines doing the watching. In this way, the film’s concern is the texture of the present: how the spaces we inhabit and have come to know are increasingly framed by the gaze of others, both human and computer.
Uncertainty and randomicity of virtual identity.
The punitive society by Michel Foucault
Everyone IID student needs to read Foucault. Everyone who cares about human being needs to read Foucault.
Babbling Corpse by Grafton Tanner
People in the 21st century will be accustomed to a state of “anonymous, no entity, but it seems to be a living thing around us” in a social networking environment.