After peer review, “On Power, Pans & Panopticons” has been published by the International Panorama Conference (IPC).
This paper was presented at the IPC Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, on September 27, 2019.
Some might think it ironic that an artist who makes panoramic photographs and is concerned about the current circumstances of our digitally networked world would explore a surveillance technology invented at the end of the 18th century. This paper reviews the history of the British social reformer Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon and places it in context with a contemporaneous invention: the panoramic painting. One of the few existing panopticon buildings, the Presidio Modelo in Cuba, is described, with a focus on its history and cultural impact. Finally, the paper offers reflections on the power/knowledge relationship and on how the panopticon can serve as a metaphor for our highly surveilled world, where those in power, gathering the data (knowledge), can predict and modify our behavior.