Tuesday, December 8, 2009

High Visual Capital and the Immodest Eye

In my final paper, I will focus on google earth, and the pleasure and power derived from a panoptic, subjectifying gaze. The first text I will use is Spatial Practices, in which de Certeau describes how 'totalizing and immoderate human texts' allow for a 'disciplinary space'. I want to next apply de Certeau's voyeuristic fantasy to Google Earth, and specifically Lisa Parks', "An Analysis of 'Crisis In Darfur,'" as the project "deputize[s] the user/citizen as a monitor on global patrol situated at a strategic interface" (Parks, 5). According to Parks, it also "demonstrates a preoccupation with the power to visualize rather than to develop coherent policies that may lead to peace in the region" (5).

With this in mind, I pose the following question: Beyond voyeuristic pleasures, what power do we give the unequal gaze in the quest for order, discipline and peace? The rationale behind "Crisis in Darfur" was that "expanding the use of remote imagery might help convince potential perpetrators that their actions against civilians will not go unnoticed by the international community" (Parks, 4). This is where I will evoke Keenan's "Mobilizing Shame."

The idea of weight of 'actions unnoticed' echoes Bentham's 1785 design for panoptic prisons, in which, at any moment, the prisoner could be watched and would therefore alter thier behavior accordingly. These structures will serve as a physical metaphor for the unannounced eye of Google Earth somewhere in the paper.

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