[Reader-list] :::::::::::Surveillance:::::::::::::::::::::::::

:bea:: bea at nungu.com
Thu Jun 20 11:24:20 IST 2002


nungu also worried::  but attempting to take some action::: nungu finds the
scariest thing the idea of the subject becoming bearers of his/her own
surveillance.   proposal below has been funded by Rhizome.org and is
currently being implemented.  what can we do???????

[rhizomatic // decentralised // hyperpanoptic [Bogard] // pantopic [Novak]
forms of 'hypercontrol' in infomatic societies

The proposed project is partly an extension of an on going project about
security, surveillance, transparency and capitalism in postmodern societies,
implemented by nungu.com and sarai.net in delhi in december of last year
[see sample works [mrs jeevam jham]] and partly a project in its own right.
The project proposes an exploration of forms 'hypercontrol' present in
societies infused with communication and information technology networks.
Contemporary surveillance systems or forms of hypercontrol, unlike the
centrally controlled and co-ordinated systems of earlier surveillance
mechanisms, are constituted by loose, malleable and flowing sets of
processes. The project proposes an examination of these processes through an
investigation of the logic and aesthetics of telematic surveillance.

Telematic surveillance, as information warfare, centres on the notion of
deterrence and detection. Contemporary warfare is a battle of images and
sounds, winning, a matter of maintaining sight of one¹s opponent. Similarly
surveillance, in the realm of electronic environments, is to do with
perpetual control over a distance, a Œknowing in advance¹. Telematic
surveillance like Virilio¹s military inspired vision machine, is the
Œautomation of perception¹. The race to see first, to anticipate, to know in
advance, is evident from the increasing preoccupation with pre-emptive
devices that depend on simulation rather than on records of what has
happened or is happening. The power of this type of surveillance, however,
is located in the searchable database, in the coupling of the synthetic
image with the data bank, the inherent logic of which is also anticipatory,
pre-emptive and preventative. Databases, automated classification by code,
not only give rise to social sorting, risk profiling and social
categorising, they  Œoperate by abstracting human bodies from their
territorial settings and separating them into a series of discrete flows.¹
Surveillance is no longer contained. It is everywhere. Hence, surveillance

The capacity of the 'Web' to capture and control, to target and to trap, to
manage and to manipulate is exemplified in database marketing, which works
by division of consumers by social type and location. Online market
databases track and record the consumer¹s patterns of purchase; and in so
much as to predict is to control, also represent pre-emptive and controlling
technologies. The increasingly automated mechanisms for social categorising
represent a key means of reproducing and reinforcing social, economic, and
cultural divisions in informational societies. Knowing in advance who is
likely to buy local or imported goods, vote BJP or congress, is seen as the
means of maintaining order, normalising populations, maximising efficiency.
Consumer Surveillance thus leads to consumerism as form of maintenance of
social order.  In this Œhyperpanopticon¹ subjects are disciplined to
participate [filling in forms // acquiring credit cards and so on], in such
an acute way that their surveilled data comes to actually constitute them.
In the same sense as the synthetic image, the real-time image, the
representation of the real, becomes more real than that which it reproduces
[Baudrillard¹s hyperreal], the data body becomes more real than its fleshy
referent.  We thus become bearers of our own surveillance, seduced into
consensual conformity by the pleasures of consumption. Bentham's panopticon
with its moral language of criminal justice is replaced by a language of
profit and loss.

Data-subjects interact with surveillance systems. The question this project
aspires to ask is how far subjects collude with, negotiate, or resist
practices that capture and process personal data? The project proposes to
set up a number of CCTV cameras in the city of Delhi, linking them back to a
URL.  The interface will allow users to view the images in real time.
Alongside the real time images, there will be a quick time movie or animated
gif detailing bodily movements // facial expressions which could be seen as
an indication of a potential crime commiter. The page will also be equipped
with a searchable database to which the user may add information that they
have acquired, maybe information of a local suspect or someone they have
seen lurking in their colony, [Delhi is a city much delineated along
security lines.  Homes of the middle and upper classes are situated in
colonies, guarded and gated from the outside world] or perhaps someone¹s
information they have obtained online.  The database will be filled by the
artists with most wanted terrorist lists alongside information from personal
homepages [courtesy of mrs jeevam jham ­ see sample works] and will contain
categories the user must file his/her information under.  These categories
will mimic the somewhat banal and arbitrary classification employed by
marketing companies but in a local context - skin colour: wheatish, caste:
Punjabi. The interface will have a Œpanic button¹ for the consumer to press
in the instance of recliner crime spotting.  The panic button will link to
the actual Delhi Police Website help centre, complete with its neighbourhood
watch, servant verification scheme, and Œarms renewal form¹ links.  The
Œservice¹ of access to this page will be made available to consumers in the
guise of a security company: ŒGau Security Services, Delhi¹ [again see mrs
jeevam jham].  [Gau, sankrit for cows.  The word for warfare in sanskrit
means, literally translated, a desire for more cows!]. The price of this
telematic surveillance service will include registration and login alongside
allowing Gau Security Services to advertise on the users homepages, much as
they do on mrs. jeevam jhams. In this way the users themselves are seduced
once more into surrendering their personal data and the proliferation of the
Œservice¹ is ensured.

The project hopes to show how in respect of the city, how webs of simulated
surveillance system become woven into the fabric of 'real' urban life, just
as the 'real' landscapes of cities themselves become transformed into a
realm of surveillant simulation. It hopes to examine reactions in a local
context to forms of hypercontrol, at the same time instilling a much needed
awareness of how such Œgovernmental technologies¹ function in a local,
social and political context. By virtue of being located in a developing
country, the project results will be fairly unpredictable as there is a much
less defined concept of personal space.  The wired indian, for the most
part, views telematic surveillance, if at all, through an inherently
uncritical lens.   

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