working process

The digital Panopticon

The workshop proposes to work with the idea of the Panopticon because the classes are hold in a former prison based on such an architectural structure, which allowed a single watchman to observe all inmates without them being able to tell whether they are being watched or not. The English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham, who designed this type of institutional building in the late 18th century, always conceived the Panopticon principle as being beneficial to the design of a variety of institutions where surveillance was important, including hospitals, schools, as well as prisons.

The Postpanopticon by Zygmunt Bauman deepens concepts of Michel Foucault who questions the relationship of power within such a structure but without a territory or clear architecture because new forms of communication do not depend of time or space. So what do they mean the surveillance cameras, internet controls or old powers situated next to the prison? What does the church has for a function close to a prison and how did this change in a digital world? The workshop investigates the architectural principles of the Panopticon in relationship to digital surveillance and power positions.

The participants started with site inspections and showed us a little part of the Center of Art, which has not been restored yet. This officially abandoned prison inside the Center of Art became our training field for both inspiration and organization. The final public art event included a sound installation, two performances with video cameras, a short video and two site-specific installations of which one with a video projection. The event took place on Friday, the 6th of December 2013 in the evening, in one of the four abandoned detentions, which was used for women and wealthier prisoners in the last century.