Panopticism is a theory of socio-political power and how societies establish order through surveillance. It entails a system in which the gaze of the watcher is internalized to such an extent that the prisoners—or citizens—become their own guards through behavior normalization and extreme visibility.
WHO WILL GUARD THE GUARDIANS? is a four-part series hosted by the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in conjunction with its Main Gallery exhibition, Panopticon: Visibility, Data, and the Monitoring Gaze. Three lecturers will discuss various aspects of panopticism, from its underlying history to how we exist under it today. The final series installation is a screening of the 1985 science fiction film, Brazil.
This series is open to the public. Suggested $5 donation.
THE BLACK BOX OF INFORMATION
Pete Ashdown, founder of XMission, Utah’s first Internet Service Provider
Ashdown will discuss private and governmental monitoring on the internet and what one can do about it. XMission is a leading sponsor for Panopticon.
THE FACELESS GAZE: THE PHILOSOPHY OF PANOPTICISM
Shannon M. Mussett, Professor of Philosophy, UVU
French philosopher, Michel Foucault, made the theory of panopticism famous in his book, Discipline and Punish. In order to understand what it means to live under the panoptic gaze, Shannon will explore the historical shift from societies once based in extravagant spectacles of royal power, to one such as our own, centered in forced normalization, disciplinary training, and extreme visibility.
THE ILLUSION OF FREEDOM: LITERATURE AND THE INVENTION OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL POLICE STATE
Nathan Gorelick, Assistant Professor, Department of English Literature, UVU
This lecture will explore how eighteenth-century poetry, novels, and drama imagined the concept of “bad conscience,” providing a model of individual freedom which does not resist but actually facilitates contemporary ideologies of order, obedience, and social conformity. In essence, Gorelick argues, Enlightenment literature laid the groundwork for the present-day panopticon of the mind.
FILM SCREENING: BRAZIL, DIRECTED BY TERRY GILLIAM (1985)
Brazil centers on Sam Lowry, a man trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living in a small apartment. The film is set in a consumer-driven dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained machines. Brazil‘s bureaucratic, totalitarian government is reminiscent of the government depicted in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, except that it has a buffoonish, slapstick quality and lacks a Big Brother figure.