Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WS Visuality and Societies of Control

In Deleuze's "Postscript on Societies of Control", one area that I would like to further explore is the question of visuality in relation to modes of power in control societies.

In Discipline and Punish, Foucault describes the Ancien RĂ©gime as one where power was held in the figure or visual presence of the king. Going further, punishment was was exerted through the spectacle, where the public could view the punishment given by the king.

In the shift toward disciplinary societies, however, the power was disseminated from one central figure (the king) into institutions and disciplinary mechanisms. Power was exercised through its invisibility and exerted through “a certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes, in an arrangement whose internal mechanism produce the relation in which individuals are caught up” (Discipline & Punish 202). Visuality is focused on subjects, as an object of study, classification and training. In this mode of discipline, knowledge becomes linked with power as the body begins to take on importance as an object of subjection.

My question, then, is in what ways does visuality play or not play in mechanisms of control? If there is a shift from the individual to the dividual then does the ‘distribution of gazes’ see nothing? Rather, is visuality only exercised through the ‘subject’ as no longer a subject but rather object, as a mere statistic?

Monica G

No comments: