Who's Watching: Surveillance, Art, and Culture
|Semester & Location:||
Fall 2021 - DIS Copenhagen
|Type & Credits:||
Elective Course - 3 credits
Art History, Media Studies, Sociology
Jesper Lohmann, email@example.com
Sanne Rasmussen, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Time & Place:||
Monday 13.15 - 14.35 N7-C21
Thursday 13.15 - 14.35 N7-C21
This course will examine surveillance from cultural and aesthetic perspectives. Asking ourselves why the themes and techniques of surveillance are increasingly present in contemporary art, we will trace surveillance culture from early secret camera photography to contemporary artists working within a diverse range of media, including photography, video, performance, conceptual art, and installation art.
The historical starting point of the course is the emergence of a new urban, modern culture and the invention of photography in the mid-19th century. We will move along historical lines to today’s participatory “culture of surveillance”, marked by rapid developments in surveillance technologies, the buzz of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Facial Recognition Technologies, and the ubiquitous presence of CCTV cameras in the urban landscape, the “icons of our age”.
While examining surveillance art and the aesthetics of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and obfuscation, we will address key questions such as “Who’s watching – for power, or pleasure?”, “How does surveillance affect our notion of the public and the private?” and “What are the bodily, emotional, and sensory experiences of surveillance?” Some of the artworks in question function explicitly as commentary or critique; others work more subtly by using the techniques and aesthetic of surveillance.
A central premise for our analysis will be the ambiguity of surveillance: on the one side, the controlling gaze from the outside; and on the other, the desire to be seen originating from within. Furthermore, surveillance embodies elements of both control and care, and is becoming increasingly invisible to the human eye as our electronic traces are tracked, traced and stored. Alongside the study of artworks, we will look at the presence of surveillance in popular culture, film and literature. The course has a strong theoretical focus, including classics within Surveillance Studies such as Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and we will discuss their relevance for understanding surveillance today.
- Analyze the relationship between society and its art and cultural production, specifically in relation to the emergence of “The Society of Surveillance” and “The Culture of Surveillance”.
- Identify the important arguments in the field of Surveillance Studies and demonstrate a familiarity with major works which comment on surveillance in art, architecture, film and literature.
- Examine surveillance from aesthetic perspectives.
- Discuss the changing notion of the public and the private in recent western culture.
We will meet for 23 sessions throughout the semester. The sessions will be a mixture of class discussions, student presentations, and lectures.
- Thursday September 23, 8 PM. Pride. A performance at the Royal Danish Theatre
- Wednesday, October 6th at 8.30 AM. The 8 –House, Ørestad. We will engage with the material in practice by looking at surveillance culture and new architecture in Ørestad, a newly constructed neighborhood south of Copenhagen.
This course is discussion-based and requires your active participation and engagement. You are also required to complete the following to pass the course:
- Oral presentations with PowerPoint slides and the facilitation of a class discussion on the topic presented.
- A 1-2 page synopsis outlining the topic of your final paper.
- A final paper of 8-10 pages. More information on the paper will be given in class, and I will schedule individual consultations with students who wish to discuss their paper topic in advance.
Engaged participation 35%
Oral presentations 25%
Final Paper incl. synopsis 25%
Browne, Simone. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Duke University Press, 2015. From this book we will read ch. 1. “Notes on Surveillance Studies: Through the Door of No Return”, pp. 31-62, and ch. 4. “ ‘What Did the TSA Find in Solange’s Fro’?: Security Theater at the Airport”, pp. 131 – 159.
Bruno, Fernanda. “Surveillance and participation on Web 2.0”. Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies, edited by Kristie Ball et al., Routledge, 2012, pp. 343 – 351.
Barnard-Wills, Katherine, and David Barnard-Wills. “Invisible Surveillance in Visual Art”, Surveillance & Society, 10 (2012), pp. 204–214.
Bauman, Zygmunt, and David Lyon. Liquid Surveillance. Polity, 2013. From this book we will read ch.2. “Liquid Surveillance as Post-Panoptic”, pp. 52 -75.
Bentham, Jeremy. Panopticon Or: The Inspection House (1791). Dodo Press, 2008, pp. 1-21.
Cartwright, Lisa, and Marita Sturken. Practices of Looking. Oxford University Press, 2009. From this book we read the chapter “The Myth of Photographic Truth”, pp. 16-26.
Crawford, Kate. “Asking the Oracle”. Astro Noise – A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance, edited by Laura Poitras, Yale University Press, 2016, pp. 138-151.
Darnton, Robert. “The Stasi Files”. CTRL [SPACE] Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, edited by Thomas Y. Levin et al., MIT Press, 2002, pp. 170 -177.
Finn, Jonathan. “Surveillance Studies and Visual Art: An Examination of Jill Magid’s Evidence
Locker”. Surveillance & Society 10(2): 134-149, 2012.
Foucault, Michel. “Panopticism” (1975). The Surveillance Studies Reader, edited by Hier and Greenberg, Open University Press, 2007, pp. 67-75.
Frohne, Ursula. “ ‘Screen Tests’: Media Narcissism, Theatricality, and the Internalized Observer”. CTRL [SPACE] Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, edited by Thomas Y. Levin et al., MIT Press, 2002, pp. 252 -277.
Funder, Anna. Stasiland. Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall. Granta Publications, 2003. From this book we read the chapter “Miriam”, pp. 10- 46.
Fussey, Pete, and Jon Coaffee. “Urban spaces of surveillance”. Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies, edited by Kristie Ball et al., Routledge, 2012, pp. 201- 208.
Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (1962). MIT Press, 1991. From this book we read the introduction, “Introduction: Preliminary Demarcation of a Type of Bourgeois Public Sphere”, pp. 1-36.
Koskela, Hille. “Webcams, TV Shows and Mobile Phones: Empowering Exhibitionism”. Surveillance and Society, vol 2, No. 2-3, pp. 199-215.
Lyon, David. Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Polity Press, 2007. From this book we read the chapter “The Watched World Today”, pp. 11-24.
Lyon, David. The Culture of Surveillance: Watching as a Way of Life. Polity Press, 2018. From this book we will read the “Introduction: Surveillance Culture takes Shape”, pp. 1-25.
Magnet, Shoshana Amielle. “When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, and the Technology of Identity”. Surveillance Studies: A Reader, edited by Torin Monahan and David Murakami Wood, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 116-119.
Phillips, Sandra S. “Looking Out, Looking in: Voyeurism and its Affinities from the Beginning of Photography”. Exposed. Voyeurism, Surveillance and The Camera, edited by Sandra S. Phillips, Tate Publishing, 2010, pp. 11-15.
---. “Voyeurism and Desire”, pp. 55-59.
Remes, Outi. “Pigs Like Pigment: Interview with Verena Kyselka”. Conspiracy Dwellings – Surveillance in Contemporary Art, edited by Outi Remes and Pamela Skelton, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, pp. 35 -49.
Simmel, George. “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903). Classic Essays in the Culture of Cities, edited by Richard Sennett, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1969, pp. 47-60.
Sontag, Susan. On Photography (1977). Penguin Books Limited, 1979. From this book we will read the chapter “In Plato’s Cave”, pp. 2-24.
Skelton, Pam.”Konspirative Wohnungen // Conspiracy Dwellings: A Personal Report”. Conspiracy Dwellings – Surveillance in Contemporary Art, edited Outi Remes and Pamela Skelton, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, pp. 1- 17.
Søilen, Karen Louise Grova. “Safe is a Wonderful Feeling: Atmospheres of Surveillance and Contemporary Art”. Surveillance & Society, Vol 18, No. 2, 2020, pp. 170-184.
Veel, Kristin & Steiner, Henriette. “Living Behind Glass Facades: Surveillance Culture and New Architecture”. Surveillance and Society, Vol 9, No. 1-2, 2011, pp. 215-232.
Warren and Brandeis. “The Right to Privacy”. Harvard Law Review, Vol. IV, No. 5, 1890. http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/articles/privacy/Privacy_brand_warr2.html
Weibel, Peter. “Pleasure and the Panoptic Principle”. CTRL [SPACE] Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, edited by Thomas Y. Levin et al., MIT Press, 2002, pp. 206 -223.
Weinhart, Martina. “Truth or Dare – Intimate Images on the Path to Postprivacy”. Privat/Privacy, edited by Martina Weinhardt and Max Hollein , Schirn Kunsthalle, 2012, pp.50 – 57.
Weller, Toni. ”The information state: An Historical perspective on surveillance”. Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies, edited by Kristie Ball et al., Routledge, 2012, pp. 57 -63.
Zuboff, Shoshana. “Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization”. Surveillance Studies: A Reader, edited by Torin Monahan and David Murakami Wood, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 302- 305.
Calle, Sophie. Suite Vénitienne (1983). Siglio, 2015.
Boye, Karin. Kallocain. Penguin Books, 2019. Excerpt.
Eggers, Dave. “Circle Democracy”. Astro Noise – A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance, edited by Laura Poitras, University Press, 2016, pp. 126-135.
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Penguin Books, 1989, pp. 3-31.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Man of the Crowd (1840). Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by G.R. Thompson, Perennial Library, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1970, pp. 262-272.
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960).
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006).
We Live in Public (Ondi Timoner, 2009).
Red Road (Andrea Arnolds, 2006).
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Monitor (1981).
Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982.
Dandeker, Christopher. Surveillance, Power and Modernity: Bureaucracy and Discipline from 1700 to the Present Day. Polity Press, 1990. From this book I recommend the chapter “Bureaucracy, Surveillance and Modern Society”, pp. 1-36.
Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control”. October Vol. 59, 1992, pp.3 -7.
Macel, Christine. ”The Author Issue in the Work of Sophie Calle. Unfinished.” Sophie Calle, M’as-tu-vue,
Sophie Calle, Prestel Verlag, 2003, pp.17-28.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema”. Art in Theory, 1900 -2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, edited by Harrison and Wood, Blackwell Publishers, 2003, pp. 982-989.
Poitras Laura, “Berlin Journal”. Astro Noise – A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance, edited by Laura Poitras, Yale University Press, 2016, pp. 81-101.
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