Thursday, 28 April 2011

Dissertation introduction - 28/04/11

Today was our first introduction for our dissertations. An introduction into procedures and ways of going about writing your proposal. Different support systems provided by the college to help us with the writing and language side of it. And different things to think about when going about it... research topics etc...

Notes I made in the lecture. 

The hand-out we were given. 

I have signed up to the writing course which happens in October to help with that aspect of the dissertation. I considered doing it this month, but thought that it would be a lot more useful closer to the time of actually writing the dissertation. 

Monday, 28 March 2011

Revised Essay - 'To what extent is contemporary CCTV culture an example of Panopticism?'

To what extent is contemporary CCTV culture an example of Panopticism?

Michel Foucault’s  ‘Discipline and Punish’ (1977)  depicts his views on creating a ‘disciplined society’ and included in this analysis is what you could call the ‘heart of the book’, his views on Bentham’s Panopticon and how it represents the way in which discipline and punishment work in contemporary society. In this essay I intend to look into Panopticism in great detail and the way that it is conveyed in modern contemporary culture through CCTV and surveillance in urban areas.
‘Discipline and Punish’ focuses on the history of our modern penal system and how it evolved from the 17th century into what it is today, looking at the shift in power, which changed how we operate as a society. Foucault starts by looking at the regulation enforced at the time of the plague, where people were completely regulated and controlled by a higher power, which watched them constantly.
Inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere: 'A considerable body of militia, commanded by good officers and men of substance', guards at the gates, at the town hall and in every quarter to ensure the prompt obedience of the people and the most absolute authority of the magistrates, 'as also to observe all disorder, theft and extortion'. At each of the town gates there will be an observation post; at the end of each street sentinels.’ –(Foucault, 1977), These measures started off an entirely new way of supervising ‘abnormal’ human beings, by constant surveillance, which sets the bench mark for all future, similar mechanisms.
‘The plague that gave rise to disciplinary projects’ (Foucault in Thomas, J, 2000, p.62)
Before the use of surveillance as a form of discipline, ‘socially useless’ people (vagabonds, the mad, the unemployed, drunks, criminals and un-married pregnant women, etc…) were hidden from the rest in the vain hope of an untarnished society. This is shown in the great confinement in the late 1600’s. Huge houses of correction were built to curb unemployment and idleness and all people who did not play a significant role in society were thrown in together. This was eventually seen as a grave error as people started to corrupt each other. The criminals and the innocents, the mad and the sane, all together en masse, being made to work.
Punishment shifted from spectacular physical control, in which society was governed by fear of pain and physical torture/execution. Public execution was rife, for example the gruesome punishment of ‘hanging, drawing and quartering’ was used for hundreds of years to make an example of criminals convicted of high treason. ‘That you be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution where you shall be hanged by the neck and being alive cut down, your privy members cut off and your bowels taken out and burned before you, your head severed from your body and your body divided into four quarters to be disposed of at the King’s pleasure’. (Maggs, M (2009) Bonfire Night in a Working Class area in the 1950’s)  To punishment and control governed by the mind as new forms of knowledge started to emerge.
Foucault was fascinated by these advances in psychiatry, biology and medicine and the way they legitimised asylums, hospitals and schools and the way that each of these alter human consciousness and how they internalise our responsibility.  These experts are essentially the ones who can differentiate between what is normal and what is abnormal.
From the mechanisms put into place at the start by the people in power during the time of the plague, the idea of discipline evolved from a form of punishment to a way of controlling society.
‘Discipline is a ‘technology’ [aimed at] ‘how to keep someone under surveillance, how to control his conduct, his behaviour, his aptitudes, how to improve his performance, multiply his capacities, how to put him where he is most useful: that is discipline in my sense’  (Foucault in Thomas, J (2000) p65)
This is where Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon comes into focus; it is an architectural depiction of discipline in Foucault’s eyes.
The Panopticon itself was proposed in 1791, a large circular building, cells circling in layers, each and every single one totally visible by the guards who were positioned in a tower at the centre of the structure.  Each cell had two windows, one positioned in line with the guard tower, and one in the wall, essentially backlighting the prisoner/madman/patient or schoolboy. ‘Visibility is a trap.’ (Foucault in Thomas, J. 2000. P64)
This shows the Panopticon to be the polar opposite to the traditional dungeon and its function “to enclose, to deprive of light and to hide” essentially locking away and forgetting about, it focuses on the first and opposes the following two. The whole idea of the structure is to ensure that each inmate is entirely visible at every point in time, without exception, making sure that every one of them knows they are being constantly surveyed and observed.
Another key point to the Panopticon is that each cell and inmate is completely isolated, with thick walls between each, completely halting any sort of communication.
“He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication” (Foucault in Thomas, J, 2000: 65). The idea behind this was that it would install order, which was never possible in houses of correction.
This invisibility is a guarantee of order. If the inmates are convicts, there is no danger of a plot, an attempt at collective escape, the planning of new crimes for the future, bad reciprocal influences; if they are patients, there is no danger of contagion; if they are madmen there is no risk of their committing violence upon one another; if they are schoolchildren, there is no copying, no noise, no chatter, no waste of time; if they are workers, there are no disorders, no theft, no coalitions, none of those distractions that slow down the rate of work, make it less perfect or cause accidents.’ (Foucault in Thomas, J, 2000:)
The idea behind Foucault’s theories on discipline, using the Panopticon as a symbol, is that, eventually, with the knowledge that every move is watched, individuals would self-regulate and the actual need for surveillance would cease to exist, turning inmates into what he called ‘docile bodies’, which are self-regulating, self-correcting, obedient bodies.
So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary’ (Foucault in Thomas, J (2000) p.65)
Essentially, his entire argument is based around the relationship between power, knowledge and the body.
“[The Panopticon] is a diagram of power reduced to its ideal form”.
In our modern world, surveillance is everywhere, sometimes completely un-detectable and unknown to the person being watched. However, in urban spaces, if you have the feeling of being watched… you usually are. The Principality of Monaco is a perfect example of this, the small city of only 500,000 inhabitants, known to be the “the most secure mile on Earth” is also the one with the most cameras. It is monitored 24 hours a day by cameras mounted on buildings, street poles and rooftops. It is said that there is nowhere in the city of Monte-Carlo where you are unseen by a camera (apart from in residential properties). A police spokesperson commented, “that if a crime is committed in Monaco and is not caught on camera, then the police are not doing their job. Ideally, video surveillance allows a crime to be prevented before it can be accomplished”. This, essentially, is the idea of Panopticism and a perfect example of its context in modern society. The knowledge of being watched is everywhere in the city, on posters and signs, the police are on every corner, and it works, street crime is close to being non-existing. Both citizens and visitors self-regulate due to the widely known knowledge of the square mile city being completely monitored.
Contemporary CCTV culture is forever evolving. “Why settle for cameras that see people, when cameras could recognize the people they see?”  Facial recognition cameras are starting to emerge in urban areas worldwide as increasing fear of terrorism and crime evolves. With this arise privacy issues, but not only this, it could change the way we operate as people, bodies. The realization of being watched not only changes our mental state, but our physical one too. If one knows they are being watched, they adapt their bodies to the way they think the observer wants them to look and behave. This brings us back to the theory on the ‘docile body’, perfectly adapted for modern society.
Although modern technology and the way in which we are being supervised are far more advanced than those of Bentham’s time, the principle is the same, to deter people from offending or being ‘abnormal’ through the threat of surveillance and being caught on CCTV. A brilliant example of modern-day Panopticism is that of a shopping centre. They are traditionally very well lit and built in a gallery-shape, all floors viewable to all, through both CCTV and the general eye of the security patrolling the area.
“Clive Norris and Gary Armstrong (1998:7) list three types of power created by surveillance. First is a direct, authoritative response seen, for example, when a security guard using CCTV observes a person behaving inappropriately and asks the person to cease the behaviour. The second form is deterrence, exemplified by an individual who refrains from inappropriate behaviour due to a fear of being caught based in the perceived ability of CCTV monitors to identify him. The third form is not meant to punish or deter, but to “abolish the potential for deviance.” This requires an internalisation of the power of surveillance that transforms those under its gaze.”
The third example listed here from the journal ‘Surveillance and Society’ is the direct link to Foucault’s views on Panopticism into contemporary CCTV culture.
However, after looking into CCTV and its effect on modern civilization, it is arguable that Foucault’s ideas are not passing through into the future. However more panoptic the world is getting, as crime and subsequently security increases, along with the common fear of increasing terrorism. Nothing much goes undetected now in urban areas due to the sheer amount of closed circuit cameras, however, this doesn’t seem to appease crime. Will recognition cameras change this? It is taking the modern Panopticon into whole new realms of control.
‘To capture personal data triggered by human bodies and to use these abstractions to place people in new social classes of income, attributes, habits, preferences, or offences, in order to influence, manage, or control them’ David Lyon  (2002)
In many ways, I feel that CCTV culture of the modern age has direct parallels with Foucault’s theories on panopticism. The exercise of control and power through constant surveillance in an attempt to render the public ‘docile’ is present in every urban area worldwide, however crime still exists, despite the ever-increasing amount of cameras. This portrays Foucault’s statement that “where there is power, there is resistance”. In effect, power cannot exist without it’s opposite, which raises the questions ‘is it possible to have a ‘docile’ society?’ and ‘will power ever exist without the urge for resistance?’

BIBLIOGRAPHY (to be revised)
Foucault in Thomas, J (2000)
Lyon, D (2006) Theorising Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond, Willan

Foucault, M (1991) Discipline & Punish, Penguin Social Sciences
Maggs, M (2009) Bonfire Night in a Working Class area in the 1950’s -

Koskela, H (2007), Cam Era - The Contemporary Urban Panopticon

Gray, M (2008), Urban Surveillance and Panopticism: Will we recognise the facial recognition society?


Foucault in Thomas, J, (2000)

Hier, S & Greenberg, L. (2007) The Surveillance Studies Reader, Open University Press

Lyon, D (2007) Surveillance Studies - An Overview, Polity Press

Lyon, D (2006) Theorising Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond, Willan

Adams, Dr M, (2007) Self and Social Change, Sage Publications Ltd

Foucault, M, (2002)  Power: The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984, Penguin, 

Bentham, J. (2009) Panopticon; or, The Inspection house, Dodo Press

Laidler, K (2008) Surveillance Unlimited, How we have become the most watched people on Earth, Icon Books Ltd

Elden, S (2005), Plague, Panopticon, Police

Yar, M (2007), Panoptic Power and the Pathologisation of  Vision: Critical Reflection on the Foucauldian Thesis

Koskela, H (2007), Cam Era - The Contemporary Urban Panopticon

Gray, M (2008), Urban Surveillance and Panopticism: Will we recognise the facial recognition society?

Essay - First draft - with notes from Richard

This is my essay handed in on 14/02/11.
These are the notes to which I need to respond to in my revised draft. 

Things I need to address...
  • My conversational tone of voice
  • Harvard Referencing
  • Analysing my quotes better
  • Shorter quotes
  • More sources

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Task 6 - Theory into Practice

Look at the CTS blog that Garry Barker has been writing to complement the lecture programme this year. Write a short response to one of the posts on the blog. Use the ideas that Garry is discussing to mount a short critical evaluation of one piece of Graphic design that you have produced on Level 5.

For this task I am going to analyse my latest design on the course. Part of a collaborative brief written by Whyte & Mackay for their drink ‘Glayva’. Part of the brief was to lower the age of the target audience… specifying that they wanted to target young, affluent professionals of both sexes aged between 25 and 35. People who would be likely to drink the product for its taste after work.

The post that I am basing this analysis on is the one entitled 'Reflections on the first lecture, surveillance and Foucault'. 
In this post, Garry outlines the fact that class, racial/ethnic origin, age and gender groups can be stereotyped using graphic design. It also outlined how we, as a society, are subtly controlled by the stereotypes and how typography itself can be described as an 'agent of standardisation'.

On our quest to design something which would target our specific market, we did a lot of research into other branding and advertisements for similar products who have already broken the market, such as Smirnoff and Absolut. Sleek and clear design, combining both type and image is prominent

I have chosen to use a serif typeface to outline the name of the drink, and a non-serif one for the descriptions.
I have also chosen to include the flavours of the drink, making it appealing to women (as a stereotype). Cocktails are for women, this, in itself is stereotyping... we made a cocktail book tailor made for the women in the audience. The colours are dark and sophisticated, making the people who drink it, in turn, feel sophisticated in themselves. 

Task 5 - Sustainability & Capitalism

Read the text- Balser, E (2008) 'Capital Accumulation, Sustainability & Hamilton Ontario'. We have copies in the CTS office, 115.

Write a 500 word critical summary of the text which explicitly adresses the following questions
  1. How is sustainability defined in the text?
  2. What are the main characteristics or tendencies of Capitalism
  3. Define a 'crisis of Capitalism'. Offer an example.
  4. What solutions have been offered to the sustainability question? Are these successful or realistic? - If not why are they flawed?
  5. Is the concept of sustainability compatible with Capitalism?

Sustainability is described in the text as a communal concept, needing everyone to buy into it and play their own role to make it a reality.  It is often separated into inter- and intra generational within the social, environmental, economic, moral and political spheres of society. Essentially, every part of our communal society as a whole needs to strive towards an environmentally conscious world, and acting in a sustainable way. There are a multitude of problems affecting the realisation of a fully sustainable world, namely the breadth and scale of the problems which have arisen from the changes needed to made to make the world sustainable. And the fact that there is a large part of the global community who do not have the funds or the technology available to them to make it a reality. 
Capitalism  is a forever widening sphere, it cannot exist without growth. Capital accumulating is never-ending, and, as a result, it is constantly looking for things to commoditise. It does this by taking over non-capital markets or intensifying existing ones. It is, in fact, nothing to do with sustainability but uses it’s ideals to gain a profit from a gullible market.

An example of a ‘crisis of capitalism’ would be the ever-present ecological crisis (global warming). The West has created this problem with their relentless use of fuel and oil and are now telling the world through the mass-media that we need to solve this crisis. Essentially getting people to generate a solution to a problem they have not created. The capitalist society are ‘greenwashing’ the world, opening up a whole new market to feed off the greedy consumer culture. Capitalism is essentially making a profit out of a global crisis. 
In response to this ecological crisis due to our sheer consumption of oil, bio-diesel has been created. It is designed to work in regular diesel engines and is formulated out of waste products (namely vegetable and animal fats), it is deemed ecologically friendly due to the fact that it is recycling waste products to replace a harmful substance with a ‘greener’ alternative. However, it is not widely- available and a lot more expensive than traditional fuel/diesel, again, capitalism using this crisis to make a profit. Not only this, but the largest manufacturer of the fuel are proposing a plant in a place where it would be harmful to human life surrounding it. Sacrificing human equality and essentially causing more problems than it is solving. 
The text outlines theories by different scientists basically proving to us that, without the money and technology, sustainability is unrealistic. A capitalistic approach to sustainability is the only way in which it can become a reality, but that excludes the countries and communities which cannot afford the ever-growing advances in technology that are essentially needed to make it so. Even the more affluent consumers are caught in a cycle, with the ever-evolving capitalist market releasing more and more products to appeal to the masses to make the world “sustainable”, they will constantly have to change the way they live and spend more and more money to give future generations a chance at a life.
Essentially, the changes that are needed are so vast and spread across such a large array of different communities making it unprofitable, that it is easier to just stay in the environmentally damaging, affordable rut we have dug for ourselves. 

Task 4 - Communication Theory

Use Shannon & Weaver's model of the communication process to write a 300-400 word analysis of a work of Graphic Design. Comment on the ways in which the piece of Graphic Design attempts to communicate to a specific audience, using techniques of redundancy, entropy or noise.

The piece of work that I have chosen is a screen-printed poster by The Delicious Design League for the 'Storming Stages and Stereos' tour featuring bands Bayside and Straylight Run. 
After analysing this piece with 'communication theory’ in mind, the separate parts of Shannon & Weaver's Model started to become apparent and I can now apply it’s theory to the design of the poster.
The information source is primarily the client, the commissioner of the poster, in this case it would be Victory Records whom would be the ones promoting the tour. They would pitch the idea to the designer, who, along with their design skills would be the transmitter, essentially encoding the design. In turn, they would have produced this poster using a series of screen-printing skills using specific paints and stock taking the place of the channel. It then is the turn of the audience, the people looking at this poster and their decoding skills to take the place of the receiver. The message is then at it’s final destination… the brain of the decoder.
The target audience is clear, to the fans of the bands playing, mainly ‘Bayside’, as the type outlining their name is a lot clearer on the image. Bolder and less entropic than the smaller type chosen for ‘Straylight Run’ indicates who are the headliners and who is supporting. There is far more redundancy in the word ‘Bayside’. The technical type on the poster is almost completely entropic, the decision of choosing yellow type on a similar colour background for the small text on the top and bottom of the poster has rendered it almost illegible. This could be noise from the transmitter, in this case being the designer, not knowing much about colour theory, or a poor choice of stock.
Screen printing brings up a lot of opportunity for noise to interfere with the process of getting the message across to the destination. Technical issues often occur with layering the paint, setting up the screen, and positioning it correctly on the stock. This would be noise taking place between the transmitter and the channel. In this case, the decision has clearly been made to create a lot of layers on the print, adding noise intentionally. Some of the layers are entropic, meaning you cannot really make them out at all. 
The receiver, people viewing this poster will know what it’s purpose is. It is aimed at Bayside and Straylight Run fans, essentially rock fans. It catches the eye with it’s bright colours and will effectively let them know of the information needed.