Vigil (Analog Pixelation) 

Vigil (Analog Pixelation)          digital imaging, wood          44"X 44"             2012
                                       
In the Foreground is High Five, porcelain, 2012.

Usually we think of surveillance as the intrusion of institutional power, the government, corporate interests, the media, into our private lives.  But the reality of the situation is far more complex. Online or at the grocery store we regularly trade our privacy for convenience or discounts.  The sordid intrusions of reality television are forced neither on its participants nor its viewers. We routinely use social media to broadcast our most mundane and intimate actions and thoughts. The porous boundaries between public and private are not marked by passwords, property lines or drawn curtains, but are fluidly negotiated by individual agency, by my current strategic relationship to surveillance. On the social field, the game of surveillance is always being played. The only question is whether at any given moment I happen to be on defense or offense. 

Honey Boo Boo and the Inversion of The Panoptic Machine
In "Discipline and Punish" Foucault identified surveillance rather than punishment as the modern means of maintaining social control. Jeremy Bentham's ideal prison, the panopticon, serves as his model. A panoptic institution is constructed so that the guards are positioned to see all, without themselves being seen.  In this way surveillance is internalized and distributed throughout the inmate population.  Foucault explains, "He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection."
Foucault goes on to apply this principle to modern western societies,"We are neither in the amphitheater, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine, invested by its effects of power, which we bring to ourselves since we are part of its mechanism." 
 
What happens when the panoptic machine is shifted into reverse and the messy individualism, amoral self indulgence, and the panoptic paranoia of the private sphere is un-apologetically thrust out into the public square? 

                                    Sorry. Out of time.  More soon!



 

Vigil (analog Pixelation), detail, actual size.  

  

Analog systems are characteristically uniformly variant. Compare to below, similar information rendered digitally. Digital systems be they bits or pixels are by contrast variations of uniformity. 

One major feature of all analog systems is random unwanted variation- noise. Given enough time or distance, noise eventually swamps the the signal.  Random variations slowly accumulate, subvert the system and become dominant.   Digital  channels of surveillance that are used by institutional power to spy, coerce and control by eroding privacy and detecting deviance can also be co-opted by the surveilled to broadcast deviance,imperfection, individuality and amoral self-indulgence back to the social body,  re-inscribing the marginal (analog) at the heart of mainstream (digital) culture.


  Digital image at a similar 8ppi.     Variations of uniformity.

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