Imaginary Landscape: “Panopticon” by Kaitlin Schaer (2013)

Laser Cutter,Student Work — Kaitlin Schaer @ 4:48 am

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How would it feel if you knew there was always the possibility someone was watching you? In the climate of today’s privacy and information security crises, this imaginary landscape is perhaps not so strange. In the panopticon, you are held captive. A constant presence over you are the ones within the tower, watching- but you cannot see them. The chains of physical imprisonment are replaced by ones of manipulation and fear, and there is no escape.

This panopticon is constructed from 131 pieces of clear and black acrylic. 131 is appropriate being both prime, reflecting the harsh concept which this piece explores, and palindromic, reflecting the symmetry of the piece. By far the most common shape used is the triangle- the visual strength of this polygon, and the sharp angles allow for the sculpture to take on a fortress-like form. The clear pieces represent everything that is under watch, especially the upright triangles immediately surrounding the center tower. These pieces are the only ones without symmetry in their orientation, as they represent the prisoners within the panopticon. The opaque black pieces represent those who are watching, and who cannot be watched themselves. These pieces are concentrated into two areas: the center tower, from which all of the “prisoner” pieces might be viewed, and the small pieces along the outside ring, which serve to convey the idea that there is no escape from the panopticon.

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