Re: Surveillance and the failure of discipline

On Fri, 25 Nov 1994, Bob HUME wrote:

> Cameras in Western Australia have been used at traffic lights to monitor
> motorists running red lights. While this does serve to catch those lawless
> desperadoes who miss the light change :) it does also result in self
> discipline. Motorists are careful to stop at those lights where the
> prominent cameras are installed.

Two things on this:
1)In NYC over the weekend, one of the tabloids bought a list of these
traffic light cameras and published them. The NYC traffic guys were all
pissed of, saying that if the locations are known it won't prevent people
from stopping at all lights. This seems to fit well into the panoptical
metaphor, where the observed begins to self-discipline whether there is
an observer or not.

2)This use of video technology seems to be different from some of the
other uses that have been mentioned, where cameras have been employed as
a means of imposing the gaze (of state actors, or of the employees of
capital) over specific areas in order to control those areas. While
behavior is still monitored, the object of the control is not the soul, as
Foucualt would have it, but the area itself. this seems to me to be an
important shift, however it was brought on (declining economic ability to
engage in disciplinary practices, political need to shift responsibility
for the individual, changing notions of human "nature").

John V.

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