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Re: <nettime> Pascal Zachary: Rules for the Digital Panopticon (IEEE)
Florian Cramer on Tue, 15 Oct 2013 22:51:26 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Pascal Zachary: Rules for the Digital Panopticon (IEEE)

One aspect doesn't seem to have been addressed here yet: that the
Panopticon may be an outmoded metaphor because of its sole emphasis on
visuality. Twelve years ago, in 2001, the exhibition "ctrl_space" at ZKM
Karlsruhe drew deserved criticism after its curators had departed from the
notion of the panopticon and narrowed down the show to visual surveillance:
primarily, cctv cameras and video installation work. This was at a time
when Telepolis and other media had extensively covered Echelon, the NSA
communications surveillance program that preceded PRISM [
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/6/6929/1.html]. The ZKM curators apparently
couldn't deal with Echelon because it wasn't visual and thus not easily
translatable into an exhibition, and because it didn't fit Foucault's and
Deleuze's canonical cultural studies theories of surveillance as smoothly.

In 2013, we're watching this history repeat itself as a farce. Many people
(myself included) are flabbergasted by the lack of mass-scale protest
against the government programs disclosed by Snowden. It seems as if two
limiting factors are at work simultaneously: Seasoned media activists and
critics didn't learn anything fundamentally new from Snowden except that
their earlier assumptions are now confirmed and can no longer be dismissed
as paranoia. For others, the news simply seemed to be too abstract and
intangible, much like the news reporting on financial derivatives schemes
and billion dollar bank bailouts in the past. There are no emotionalizing
images, no icons, figuratively speaking: no My Lai photographs.

Teaching a mixed group of third year Bachelor-level students of
informatics, media technology and media design, I learned that even most of
them did not know or understand systems like PRISM, commercial mining of
personal data and big data operations.

Criticism is unlikely to become effective unless (a) it sharpens up its
analysis beyond staid cultural studies paradigms and metaphors, and (b),
seemingly in contradiction to (a), creates a powerful visual language to
raise awareness of the issue. For the time being, I'd seriously recommend
people watching the 1998 Will Smith blockbuster "Enemy of the State" (and
its Coen brothers parody "Burn after Reading"), for the lack of anything
better. A popular activist philosopher like Zizek could be criticized for
reinforcing visual fetishisms and resulting blindness through the way his
own lecturing is so much based on iconic popular cultural images; on the
other hand, this might be the route to go.


On Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 6:19 PM, Al Matthews <prolepsis {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello list. On Tor,
> >The US was slow to realize (or did they know this from the beginning?)
> Surely the latter

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