Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friday 11AM section- Challenging Control

Throughout this week, we have read and discussed control via digital media. In Alexander Galloway’s essay, “Physical Media,” he sets up the notion of decentralized, nonhierarchical power and control. He explains that control has shifted: originally, there seemed to be one powerful entity: the government. They controlled society from one “hub.” However, nowadays, we are controlled from a decentralized power, which is the Internet. We have brought up many terms and issues concerning control, but I feel as though we, along with the theorists that we have read, have missed an important term in our discussion.

After watching Time Code, a major notion of control occurred to me that I realized we had not yet discussed: surveillance. I believe that the phenomenon of modern power and control stems from mass and constant surveillance. Exemplified by Professor Chun’s Packet Sniffer, we are under a constant watch from an unknown source while we use new media. Throughout Time Code, Mike Figgis makes blatant commentaries on the notion of surveillance and control in our society.

Salma Hayek’s girlfriend is the most obvious form of surveillance and control in the film. After Hayek goes inside the production agency, her girlfriend listens to her every move and eventually finds out that Hayek is having an affair, which leads to ultimate drama and violence at the end of the film. This is a clear commentary on the surveillance that our society allows. Figgis also utilizes real surveillance clips toward the beginning of the film to further the theme.

Essentially, I am challenging our theorists in their description of our society as a “society of control,” (Galloway) as I believe that our society is a rather society of surveillance. This surveillance may lead to eventual control, but it is important to understand that the control that is present in our society due to the Internet is dependent on digital surveillance. I hope to discuss the notion of surveillance as it relates to our readings in section.

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