Polic­ing the Po­lice in a Post 9/11 Cul­ture

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • If You See Something Say Something: Art, War, Surveillance and the Sustainability of Urgency in the Post 9/11 Era

Presentation Title:

  • Polic­ing the Po­lice in a Post 9/11 Cul­ture

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Panel:  If You See Something Say Something: Art, War, Surveillance and the Sustainability of Urgency in the Post 9/11 Era

    In a cul­ture of mass-me­di­ated ter­ror/ism, Ranciere’s no­tion of polic­ing takes up from where Fou­cault’s dis­cus­sion of Ben­tham’s ‘panop­ti­can’ ends.  For Ranciere, polic­ing is not so much the ‘dis­ci­plin­ing’ of bod­ies as a rule gov­ern­ing their ap­pear­ing – it is “a con­fig­u­ra­tion of oc­cu­pa­tions and the prop­er­ties of the spaces where these oc­cu­pa­tions are dis­trib­uted” (Jacques Ranciere, Dis­agree­ment, 1998, p.29). What hap­pens then, when the pow­er­ful and ubiq­ui­tous strate­gies of or­der­ing, con­trol­ling and polic­ing are re­versed – when the po­lice are them­selves po­liced; when the ‘voice­less’ begin to in­ter­fere in the rules of ap­pear­ance?

    When Wael Ghonin cre­ated a Face­book page for Khalid Said, the 28-year-old Egypt­ian man who died after al­legedly being beaten by po­lice, the page be­came a ral­ly­ing point for the Jan­u­ary 25 protests against Mubarek’s regime in Egypt. When demon­stra­tions started to flag, an in­ter­view with Ghonin, broad­cast on You Tube, again gal­va­nized pro­test­ers, who came back on the streets in large num­bers in order to press for an end to the Mubarak regime. Sim­i­larly, many artists are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to the strate­gies of sousveil­lance in order to ex­plore and sub­vert ex­ist­ing power re­la­tions in a post 9/11 cul­ture. By turn­ing nor­ma­tive tools of sur­veil­lance and/or sys­tems of dataveil­lance, back upon them­selves, such artists seek to pro­duce meth­ods by which to counter-ter­rorise or de­con­struct the mech­a­nisms of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence as a se­ries of ap­pear­ances in media events. This paper ex­plores how, for artists like Rod Dick­in­son, Harun Farocki, Voina, Vi­sion Ma­chine or Uber­mor­gan, strate­gies of sur­veil­lance and con­trol can be re­played in re­verse and how the rules of ap­pear­ance can be re­vis­ited and ‘de­tourned’.

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