“The Inspection House”, surveillance, Bentham, Foucault & intentions (with Emily Horne & Tim Maly)

http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/inspection-house
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Jeremy Bentham (died 1832) on display at London College into the 1970’s. Note his mummified head between his feet…

This week William speaks with Emily Horne and Tim Maly about their book “The Inspection House; An Impertinent Field Guide to Modern Surveillance”, which was published in October 2014 by Coach House Books in their Exploded Views series. This interview comes right before the authors book tour of locations in Canada.

From the book’s website:

“In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. While Bentham’s design was ostensibly for a prison, he believed that any number of places that require supervision—factories, poorhouses, hospitals, and schools—would benefit from such a design. The French philosopher Michel Foucault took Bentham at his word. In his groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as a means for ever-finer mechanisms of control.

Forty years later, the available tools of scrutiny, supervision, and discipline are far more capable and insidious than Foucault dreamed, and yet less effective than Bentham hoped. Public squares, container ports, terrorist holding cells, and social networks all bristle with cameras, sensors, and trackers. But, crucially, they are also rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution.”

 

In the interview, Emily and Tim talk about Jeremy Bentham’s life, the intended and actual uses of the panopticon, the dangers of the well intentioned, and more!
The book has a lot of good stuff in it, history and analysis and humor. For more info about “The Inspection House” and about the author’s Canadian tour, you can visit http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/inspection-house

The Panopticam (live streaming & timelapse from the top of the cabinet in which Jeremy Bentham sits)

Metro.UK article on Jeremy Bentham’s attendence record at the University College of London since his passing in 1838.

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