Interrogating photography’s role in the critical debate of surveillance culture in contemporary Western society.
Abstract: This research paper aims to questions the ways in which visual artists critique contemporary society’s surveillance culture, through looking at a range of theoretical frameworks and ideas such as Panopticism, Psychoanalysis, machine autonomy and Marxism. This paper has examined the usefulness and relevance of using both professional and armature surveillance commodities that use your quantitative data to build up a metaphoric picture of you. Photographers have not only uses such technologies as a way of exposing the regime of power, they also offer insights into the way in which institutions and governing bodies use this power as a way of control.
Research into the concept of panopticism, referring to the theorisation of a surveillance society, coined by Jeremy Bentham and Michael Foucault. This theory has been contextualised by the text Discipline and Punish: Birth of the Prison (1995) and film-maker Rachel Maclean and her body of work titled Feed Me (2013). Your Face is Big Data by Egor Tsvetkov and How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Education.MOV File by Hito Steyerl has been used to reflect on our dependence on digital technology, and how this reliance has allowed for machine intelligence to enhance and become autonomous. It also reflects on the way that surveillance art is shown, whether it’s disseminated through galleries or other viewing methods, like online or TV. This chapter has referred back to Maclean and Steyerl and looked at how they disseminate their work, as well as discussing the Watched! Surveillance, Art and Photography exhibition.
To access the research paper, please email Tia for a pdf copy, or visit ISSU. Submitted to the school of Media and Performing Arts, Faculty of Arts and Humanities Coventry University January 2020