Participating artists: Marios Fournaris, Dimitris Fragakis, Kiriaki Goni, Nikos Hatzikonstantis, Antonis Kapnisis, Vaggelis Lioudakis, Evangelia Raftopoulou, Ilias Vasilos
Curated by Sophia Chrysaphopoulou & Alkistis Kontopoulou
Depo Darm Gallery, Athens
Oct 4 – Nov 4 / 2017
In the architectural model of English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (18th century) lies the early idea of a society under surveillance. The aim of the design he invented was to have surveilled (-opticon) all (pan-) types of people. Prison inmates, mental patients, the poor and the workers are indicative groups whose surveillance, bullying and isolation were considered necessary. According to French philosopher M. Foucault, the creation of the prison replaces torture, with incarceration as a form of punishment and by exercising authority it formulates a disciplined society that goes as far as the infinitely generalise-able mechanism of “panoptism”.
Eye, 2017, digital print on archival paper, 90x90cm
Taking a look at today, we notice the effortless implementation of a contemporary version of foucaultian society, through the use of new technologies and the internet. The individual becomes an object of surveillance in the public and the private sphere, the limits of which are completely fluid. The “new surveillance”—that which depends on the use of advanced technology—is performed on a daily basis, resulting in Bentham’s panoptic model already in full operation, including and keeping an eye on the entire planet’s population.
On the one hand, the amenities and services provided by the internet result in the personal data of the individual being exposed at any moment, through his/her continuous and varied connection to the cyberspace. The argument of ease and comfort, which the application of new technologies can offer, are often the pretext in which many practices are disguised, and which in exchange deprive an individual of its privacy. As a result the individual becomes vulnerable, more controllable and malleable, as it has no power to form a total of the social space and to define its position within that. At the same time, the pursuit for security—both on the level of prevention as well as repression—becomes the basic grounds where the foundations for a society under surveillance are laid.
Stick house, 2016, graphite on paper, 40x32cm
On the other hand, the subject him/herself makes their personal data public “willingly”, which happens for example through social media, agreeing to remain on the world wide (panoptic) web, and thus conforming to its demands, under the illusion that they are free. New technologies after all impose a way of life and are not just a tool for man to tame the world around him/her; on the contrary, they have become independent and perform their authority on subjects in a very particular way. As a result, the internet’s virtual environment often seems to be more dangerous than a prison.
Treasure, 2015, oil on paper, 17x24cm
However, the more beautified and ideal the digital world is presented as, the more it becomes apparent the need for the user to take responsibility—who in turn is not just prey to the world wide web, neither is without say for his/her choices. On the contrary, it is he/she who participates, agrees and condescends in every case (“I agree with the terms and conditions”). We believe that it’s an issue which, as new technologies develop, it will become more current and urgent, as it affects and defines significantly human behaviour and existence.
Participating artists depict and highlight this issue concerning confinement, entrapment and subjugation of the surveilled person in a suffocating environment, through different theoretical approaches and artistic means, such as paintings, sculptures, installations and the use new technologies.
Alkistis Kontopoulou, art historian and curator
Sofia Chrysafopoulou, social anthropologist, art historian, curator