Watching the Watchers

In 1791 Jeremy Bentham published plans for what he called the Panopticon. Meant to be applied to prison design, it has rooms arranged in a circle around a central control booth. Bentham reasoned that if inmates knew they were being watched at all times, they would be more likely to follow the rules. A similar philosophy fuels the contemporary proliferation of security cameras. They’re meant to stop crime, but some argue they’re an unacceptable infringement on our right to be left alone. The group art show “Keeping an Eye on Surveillance” tackles these issues, particularly whether security measures really do make us more secure. Artists Rodney Ewing, Taraneh Hemami, and Enrique Chagoya have long infused their work with cultural politics, and multimedia mastermind Jim Campbell uses LED and other technologies to depict shadowy figures who may or may not know they’re being tracked by a camera. Farley Gwazda contributes a sound installation called it’s going to take us forever to get home. Michael Zheng and Nigel Poor do performance pieces. After seeing this exhibit, everyday software like Google Street View might not look the same.
Sept. 10-Oct. 22, 2011

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