Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wed. Sec, The Cave and Surveillance

What struck me most about the cave work that we saw today and how it relates to the different ideas on surveillance was the physical technology used. Prof. Cayley mentioned that the images are projected from a “shuttering” of the glasses. The idea of a shutter brings to mind the idea of the capture model, as it is not a constant surveillance, but rather depends upon “tracking,” or “traces a trajectory through a more abstract space which might have numerous ‘dimensions.’” (Agre, 742). The space of the cave seems to fit with the depiction of “abstract” space that has “multiple dimensions.” However, the idea of the shutter seems to relate more closely to the surveillance model, in that it tracks physical location for an immediate purpose (it’s not about storing it in a database). When I think of a shutter, I think of the one precise moment that is captured by its being open (a certain point), and then, consequently, these frames of captured information are put together, and can therefore represent “changes of state,” such as movement in film. Then, to draw it to the cave, the magnet in the glasses can track the movement of the person wearing it. However, the interesting difference is that the capture model is meant to be a reflection or representation of an object’s movement, whereas the shuttering of the glasses (taking of data), informs the movement of, say, the 3d corridor (we move through the corridor/the corridor moves). So, it’s not simply about “data input,” but rather affecting the data, which seems representative of the capture model.

The capture model is a metaphor that is grounded in the language of computers, whereas the surveillance model is a “political metaphor,” as is the panopticon, a “figure of political technology” (Foucault, 205). The 3d projections in the cave, and the technology by which they work seem to reject the concept of the political. The idea of surveillance is rooted in a kind of paranoia of being watched, as it is a “cultural phenomenon,” with connotations of the secret police, a "fear" of information being gathered. Foucault also meditates mainly on how the panopticon will affect relations of power, being an “omnipresent surveillance.” The concept of individualization and internalization that is inherent in the idea of the panopticon—that one person is tracked, accounted for, amidst a group relates to the feeling of isolation when in the cave, as your view of the 3d images is restricted to what is seen through the glasses; seeing others around you costs you the 3d experience. However, that seems a bit of a stretch, so I’m wondering if the idea of the political that’s implicated in the panopticon and the surveillance model can be reconciled with the artistic and relatively safe (if disorienting) experience of the cave.

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