A new concentration camp

Arturo fito Rodríguez Bornaetxea
Facultad de Bellas Artes de la Universidad del País Vasco EHU / UPV

A new concentration camp. The current synoptic nature of television as a new stage for work and subjectivity production.

We have bore witness to a complex evolution of social control methods, such as J. Bentham’s architectural project, the analysis of power carried out by Mr. Foucault to describe disciplinary societies, or the Taylorian obsession for the surveillance of labour. The transition from a panoptical idea towards a synoptic one has ushered in a media show that, paradoxically, as time goes by accepts new, crafty formats of reality show. Accordingly, the screen, the fragmented interface represented by television in connivance with the web, provides a set for ideological determination working at different levels of the media show. The synchronized production of subjectivities spurred by this evolved and global show is destined to keep moving the capitalist machine, one that has been about to collapse for too long a time, but never eventually happening. Critical thinking has doggedly revisited and approached that machine by adding all sorts of prefixes and suffixes to capitalism, e.g. “post”, “late”, ”liquid” or “hyper”. However, it only affords us a gloomy report of our time, while keeping us busy in nuances that confirm our status of captives.

The new technologies show that the concept of video-surveillance, such as we knew it, is starting to be irrelevant, since it made its way through the urban space over to our own bodies. The enclosed room and its limited visibility CCTV have been superseded by the web, representing the public space brought into our own private space by means of the screen. By way of its fragmentary interface, television, the televisual (and programming) device, has managed to somehow break, shatter, substitute reality, or create an illusion of it. The apparently natural way in which we get access to the surveillance of others is our own captivity; ubiquity is a new concentration camp.

The concentration camp is actually for G. Agamben the cornerstone of modernity, since it stands for “the hidden paradigm of the political space”, and we might as well understand the screen interface as the access to a realm that brings together leisure and immaterial work, surveyed reclusion and watching position, mock freedom and perpetual state of emergency, chaos and control. All that range of tensions can be seen on the web by means of a non-stop reality show, the creation of life styles, subliminal publicity and the “extended show”, namely, the current devices for surveillance and indoctrination. This text aims at revisiting the audiovisual formats and technologies that prompt this “new realm” treading “a fine line between life and norm”, as well as the practices that come up as a way forward for resistance, be they artistic, divergent, or activist.

Concept pairing: Chaos vs Control.

Key words: interface, television, control, subjectivity, art, show.