Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon was, in principle, an architectural form that condensed the ideas of separation, correction and control of the abnormal. Quoting from M. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish:
“…We know the principle on which it was based: at the periphery, an annular building; at the centre, a tower; this tower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building; they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; the other, on the outside, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other…”
This seemingly simple system has ensured that not only prisoners can be seen all at once and each one apart, but themselves can not see if someone is watching in the main tower:
“…All that is needed, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower and to shut up in each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker or a schoolboy. By the effect of backlighting, one can observe from the tower, standing out precisely against the light, the small captive shadows in the cells of the periphery. They are like so many cages, so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visible. He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication.”
It was and is the aim of any form of power, whether it establishes itself with consensus or through fear and violence, to control people. Surveillance serves both. If we take a historical look, we will find that surveillance was an integral part of the enforcement and has deep roots. From the theocratic perceptions and the “Eye of God” symbol which sees everything/everywhere even ones thoughts, up to the modern western and eastern regimes that have invented new and upgraded old methods, surveillance remains the basic tool for educating and disciplining populations to an anonymous power. The technological revolution offered even more tools and possibilities, setting a new ground in the science of control. These technologies knit a net that constantly densifies and leaves no ground unexploited. More and more, we realize that people’s intimate and sensitive personal data, what we call private sphere, have been violated in all sorts of ways. Our moments are recorded and turned into “data” within the cyberspace. Perhaps, we are not far from that dystopian future in which security cameras will scan our biometric points and, by searching their databases, will allow us (or not) access to a city which will be controlled by a modern, sophisticated Panoptikon.
I photographed, from the computer screen, moments of people from all over the world, transmitted through thousands of cameras connected to the Internet and accessed free by anyone. Besides the shock and beyond the obvious, to highlight the emerging issue of recording people’s moments and diffuse their image on the Internet without their consent, these pictures have another aspect. Reversing the surveillance context from which they were excerpted, they highlight people and their life without local segregations and delicate make-ups. The photos are self-explanatory and subordinate us to the stories of these unknown people. These snapshots, taken out of the authenticity of everyday life, demand our interpretation and eventually our identification with their protagonists. As long as we understand that from these individual stories we can compose a wider and ecumenical part of the human condition that includes us as well.
This photographic series tries to capture in the non-topian and vast internet, the moments that, in my opinion, deserve to be reconstructed in a new semantic context. It is divided into three independent studies which are, however, part of a wider issue of the modern digital world and its rendering by the photographic medium. With the common denominator of the internet and live image transmission, it is detected whether a photographic image can be created through the computer screen, not as to the means but, in relation to the essence of photographic practice; that is, the immobilization of the finite moment and its transformation.
All of the photographs were taken using a photographic camera in front of a computer screen transmitting live.