2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Panopticon to Pinterest: A History of Surveillance

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In 1791, when Jeremy Bentham designed the panopticon prison system, he considered it a mechanism of power that acted directly on individuals, granting its controller “the power of mind over mind.” In the panopticon prison “the apparent omnipresence of the inspector,” combined with “the extreme facility of his real presence” creates a perceived omnipresent, and omniscient figure. Formally homogenous to the human eye, the panopticon’s cells line the prison’s circular outer-walls, while the inspector’s tower, the iris, grants a 360° view of the space. The panopticon creates the illusion of constant surveillance, a living entity, or as Bentham describes it, “an artificial body.”

This session uses the panopticon as a model for understanding the roles of modern surveillance systems and the strategies behind them. Additionally, the session will guide you through the technological advances that have fueled the evolution of surveillance from the panopticon to the surveillance techniques of today.



Ceren Paydas

Visual Artist, Graduate Student

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Ceren is a visual artist born in Istanbul, Turkey. She earned her BFA in Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design at Sabanci University, where she created public installations, photography, and short films on the theme of voyeurism. Ceren has been featured as a visiting artist and curator at academic institutions and galleries across Europe, including her role as curator for the VERVE Exhibition in Krakow, Poland. In 2012, she was nominated for the TENT.Rotterdam Academy Awards for her short film “Bulimia.”

Ceren is currently working on her MFA in communication design at The Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. During her first year at DMI, Ceren concentrated her research on the history of surveillance, specifically Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison system. Ceren uses the panopticon as a model for understanding our current surveillance systems and their affect on society now, and into the future.

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