The Panopticon structure operates on selective surveillance; the watchers can see everything without being observed, and the watched are constantly aware of their supervision without knowing exactly who is in control. When we were first given the life logging essay assignment, I immediately thought of the scene in The Italian Job, one of my favorite movies, where the main characters control the route of an armored car full of cash by hacking into the traffic control center computers and controlling the traffic signals. Traffic control is the perfect example of panopticism in that the authorities remotely regulate the flow of traffic, while we as drivers and pedestrians are trained from a young age to instinctively follow signals. We’re taught from the time we learn to walk to look both ways before crossing the street, we play games like “Red Light, Green Light” as kids, and we know as drivers that running a red light is expressly forbidden. Very few of us, though, stop and consider who might actually be controlling our actions on the road.
My first thought for my remediation project was to make my traffic light paper an image, because the idea of replacing the lights with eyes popped into my head right away. What better way to very expressly portray the watchfulness of traffic authorities? The actual execution was much more difficult, because you might be surprised to hear that Flickr is pretty limited in its collection of red and yellow human eyes. Through the magic of Photoshop and judging by the reactions of the class to my presentation, I think I was able to effectively get the point across that we are under constant surveillance even when we least expect it.