Owners Manual

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Owners Manual


Art / photo-book. Shipping and tarifs may apply.

76 pages.

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This book is the main work in the project 'Panopticon'.


‘For he watches how people live; he sees everything they do’
      Job 34:21

The searchlight replaces Gods light

In 18th century Europe Gods power began to weaken. The all-powerful who could see your sins began to lose ground to scientific method. Power structures in Europe experienced a revolution where central authority went from being based in the church to the state.

It is during this Enlightenment that the philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote a manual for how to build the perfect prison. The prison was circular with cells built into the walls. A guard tower stood in the middle with blinds and shutters covering the windows. The guards could see into every prison cell, but no prisoner could see the guards. Bentham named the prison Panopticon, after the mythological Greek giant Argus Panoptes with a hundred eyes.

Bentham argued that even if the guards couldn’t always observe the inmates, the inmates would never know if they were being observed, and would therefore regulate their own behavior.

The prison was designed to be profitable. The inmates labored to make products. This way the ruling class could form the inmates to be obedient workers while serving as a cheap source for labor. Inmate became slave and ruler became owner.

What Bentham didn’t realize was that his design wasn’t limited to just a prison. You can create a Panoptic nation.

Today CCTV recognizes us on street corners. In our pockets we carry listening devices that may be turned on without warning. Laptops can see us when we cry, laugh and masturbate. God has been replaced by the NSA, and sin with paragraph.

The exhibition

The project is displayed with an exhibition. It tells the story of a governments ownership of information, and by extension ownership of you. A slavery created not by malice, but by accident in the ever-illusive pursuit for safety.

The exhibition contains a security camera and TV. On a pillar you find the book; Owners Manual. A book that illustrates the feeling of a surveillance state. Surveillance tools such as X-ray machines, drones, heat-seeking cameras and CCTV-cameras are utilized to tell this story.