berries after an ice storm: materialization of the supercooling phenomena
Let us continue to think of the concept of life for Gilbert Simondon after Spinoza. In my knowledge, Spinoza never gives a clear definition of life in his Ethics. What we can draw from his philosophy to define life would be related to an intensity of movement of the substance concentrated within a body. Spinoza never seem to think in term of history of the world, and it would be an anachronism to attribute to him a first sketch of the evolution as thought by Charles Darwin two centuries after him; however, his ethics allows to think Darwin’s interpretation of the world since Spinoza thinks of the infinite substance that is the world as continuously in movement and transforming the bodies formed in it. Both of these narratives respect the antic principle according to which “natura non facit saltus” (nature does not make jump); in other words, life emerges gradually and not in thresholds. Simondon who is a thinker of the 20th-century, uses the scientific knowledge of his time in biophysics, electronics and thermodynamic to think of a new definition of life.
Electric Chair by Andy Warhol (1964)
There is still an existing political debate about whether of not a given society should adopt (perpetuate) death penalty as its ultimate judicial sentence. It is surprising to often hear people say that they are against death penalty “except for… (place here the most horrifying crime),” not realizing that this “except for” validates by definition their acceptation for this sentence. Beyond the strictly emotional (or even religious) aspects of the arguments given by its opponents, I would like to ask whether we actually fathom what death penalty really means in a given society.
In the context of premodern society that Michel Foucault describes as following a paradigm of sovereignty based on the right of the sovereign to dispose of its subjects’ life (to go to war for example) in exchange of protection against the various antagonisms coming ‘from the outside,’ the act to give death to one of these subjects can be integrated within the logic of such social tacit contract. On the other hand, the modern era is characterized by a biopolitical (quoting Foucault again) administration of society, i.e. an organization of life in its very mechanisms (health, sexuality, reproduction etc.) to optimize the function of society. In order to describe how death penalty integrates within this scheme, I need to briefly explain the idea of thanatopolitics (politics administrating death) that I introduced in a previous article. This notion emerges from the observation that death is “at work” and that there are therefore only two possible ways of dealing with it: acceleration or deceleration of the death process. Biopolitics therefore involves by definition its counterpart (one might say that there are the same), thanatopolitics. The administration of toxicity in the context of food production (an important part of biopolitics) or society’s infrastructure (pollution) or its risk factor (nuclear accidents), is what I include in this thanatopolitics that a given society has to organize to either administrate the acceleration or the deceleration of the death process.
The guest writers series is now named “The Funambulist Papers” in preparation of the first volume of the same name (more about that soon). The 42nd episode of this series is offered by Philippe Theophanidis, writer/editor of Aphelis and currently working on his dissertation in communication at the University of Montreal. His paper, entitled “Caught in the Cloud: The Biopolitics of Tear Gas Warfare,” is a philosophical, biological and political examination of the specific counter-insurrectional weapon that tear gas constitutes. The latter has been extensively used against the occupiers of Gezi Park in Istanbul (see past article 01 and 02) and in other Turkish city during the recent massive social movement against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative discourse and policies. Philippe therefore starts by describing a randomly targeted attack by the Istanbul police as it can be seen in an online video as particularly expressive of the arguments he is trying to make in relation to the contemporary biopolitical regimes. He points out that tear gas is a biopolitical par excellence as it does not unfolds its violence on the bodies without the latter’s consent. Of course, if one has to breath and therefore the refusal to inhale the toxic gas quickly reaches a point of inevitability, yet this ultimate acceptation of the gas’s effects is perceived as a form of surrender to the weaponized changes of the atmospheric conditions. The fact that tear gas carries tears in its very name and effects is also (coincidentally or not) illustrative of how it affects our body in the register of emotions (and therefore of life), rather than in the plain violence of the pre-modern executioner axe (to insist on the difference between pre-modernity and biopolitics as it is made by Foucault).
To continue this reflection after the reading of Philippe’s text, you can consult The Funambulist Papers 29 written by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos about “The Funambulist Atmosphere,” as well as one of my most recent articles that I wrote after having a conversation with Philippe about the organization of death in biopolitics, “Thanatopolitics: Managing the Acceleration/Deceleration of the Death Process.”
Caught in the cloud: the biopolitics of tear gas warfare ///
By Philippe theophanidis
Yesterday I was having an epistolary exchange with my friend, Philippe Theophanidis about a few notions that are examined in his forthcoming text for the Funambulist Papers series. In his text, Philippe remarks that biopolitical systems are not only organizing and acting on the life of its subjects, it also involves what he calls “a work of death.” By this, he does not mean the same thing that what Michel Foucault designates as being the pre-modern paradigm (before the 18th century), in which a sovereign has the absolute power of life and death of his (her) subjects. Death in a biopolitical regime should be understood, not as an event, but rather as a continuous process. We can take Xavier Bichat‘s definition of life that I gave several times in my articles, “life is the set of functions that resists to death,” and conclude its implicit corollary: death is the continuous process that life needs to function against. In other words, death is an always active entropic operation on the totality of the bodies that composes the world.
Starting from this definition, we can understand that the speed of the process of death of our own body as an assemblage of multiple entities (see past article) can be influenced by external agents. It cannot be stop, and therefore there is no immortality possible as a definitive status; however, it can be decelerated as the work of Arakawa and Madeline Gins (see the fifteen articles already dedicated to their work) attempt to do through architecture. That is how I interpret how they call the action that they try to have each body accomplishing continuously: “not dying” i.e. resisting to death i.e. living. The state that we call “healthy” is not constituted by the absence of action of death, but rather by the active sync of our body’s biology with the one of its environment. As Georges Canguilhem says in the conclusion of The Normal and the Pathological (1966), “Man is healthy insofar as he is normative relative to the fluctuations of his milieu.”
I am in complete disagreement with American libertarian politicians like Ron Paul and his son, Senator of Kentucky Rand Paul as far as interior policies are concerned. However, one needs to acknowledge the consistency of their political system, a sort of anarchist free-market in which supposedly social justice comes from the self-regulation of the system. This kind of thinking leads, of course, to the conservation of the current American healthcare system that nevertheless constitutes the most blatant example of capitalism’s indifference for any form of social justice. To be just, the libertarian pure capitalist system should make all human ‘start from scratch’ with egalitarian conditions of life, a sort of capitalist kibbutz in which children would be separated from their parents at their birth to be given the fair chance to take their place in the meritocracy. It goes without saying that such structure would not be to the Libertarians’ taste and therefore their system fails in consistency only when they want it to appear as just. The current American healthcare system that treats extremely differently the wealthy and the poor and that provides life-long debts, is what we could call a crime against society as a new legal definition.
It would be too simple however to state that countries like Canada, Japan or the European Union have found a perfect healthcare system. In this regard, it is interesting to look at the 1983 conversation entitled “The Risks of Security” (“Un système fini face à une demande infinie” in its original French version) in which Michel Foucault answers the questions of Robert Bono, general secretary of the union CFDT (Democratic French Confederations of the Workers) that was part of the Administration Council of the French social security back then. It is incidentally interesting to see that in the early 1980′s in France during the beginning of the first left president François Mitterand, a conversation about an important topic like healthcare between one of the main representatives of the country’s unions and a philosopher like Foucault could occur. It is also to Foucault’s credit in this conversation not to remain in the abstraction of a disincarnated philosophy but, on the contrary, to speak of problems concretely and even proposing a few ideas to the risk of loosing credibility.
The second volume of The Funambulist Pamphlets that gathers past articles of the blog, is now officially published by Punctum Books in collaboration with the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons The New School. You can either download the book as a PDF for free or order it online for the price of $7.00 or €6.00. Next volume to be published will be dedicated to Deleuze.
Official page of The Funambulist Pamphlets Volume 02: FOUCAULT on Punctum Books’ website.
Index of the Book
Introduction: The Cartography of Power
01/ Foucault and Architecture: The Encounter that Never Was
02/ The Architectural Underestimation
03/ “Do not become Enamored with Power”
04/ “Mon Corps, Topie Impitoyable”
05/ The Cartography of Power
06/ The Political Technology of the Body
07/ Architecture and Discipline: The Hospital
08/ Questioning Heterotopology
09/ Foucault and the Society of Control
10/ Quadrillage: Urban Plague Quarantine & Retro-Medieval Boston
11/ The Inscription of Gender in Our Bodies: Norm Production in Foucault and Butler
12/ Modes of Subversion Against the Pharmacopornographic Society: Testo Junkie by Beatriz Preciado
13/ “My Desire is Someone Else’s Fiction”
14/ The Architectural Paradigm of the Society of Control: The Immanent Panopticon
15/ The Counter-Biopolitical Bioscleave Experiment: Bioscleave, Shaping our Biological Niches by Stanley Shostak
16/ Diagrams of Utopia by Anthony Vidler
17/ Quarantine and Remoteness: Paranoia and Mechanisms of Precautionary Incarceration
18/ Prison Information Group: Michel Foucault, Jean-Marie Domenach & Pierre Vidal-Naquet
Chronophotography of dancer Ami Shulman walking, (Montreal 2009) by Joseph Butch Rovan
I have not mentioned the work of Henri Bergson very often in the past. I actually can remember of having used his work only once through Deleuze’s seminar about cinema when I was attempting to explain the essence of Spinoza’s work about the body. In this article, I therefore want to interpret Bergson directly through his writings and, more particularly, by studying the fourth chapter of Matter and Memory (1896) that is entitled “The Delimiting and Fixing of Images. Perception and Matter. Soul and Body.” In this chapter, Bergson pedagogically works in steps to dissolve the illusion we have when considering any movement. For him, such an illusion is explicited by what is known as the paradox of Zeno of Elea, which considers the movement as infinitely divisible into moments of immobility, just like a mathematician would describe a line as an infinite array of points. Bergson does not discuss the nature of the paradox, but rather its premisses: the error is to divide movement:
The recent manhunt of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston was probably quite shocking to many non-Americans – and probably some Americans too -, for the anachronism it constituted. The latter was caused by the ability for a Police to empty an entire city and therefore implements a sort of state of emergency, as well as the “march of the heroes”, the multitude of police officers acclaimed by the crowd after they arrested their prey. There is a profound feudalism in such absoluteness and one has the right to wonder what motivates this disturbing joy.
Let us focus on the urban condition that contextualize this manhunt. I have been repeatedly writing in the past, each house through its impermeability due to the implementation of private property is susceptible to become a prison for the bodies living inside of it in the sudden legal implementation of a quarantine. For an important part of Boston, the quarantine was not implemented stricto sensu but it was highly recommend to each resident to stay inside and the context of fear created by the ubiquitous media made such a recommendation a quasi-order. In the areas of Boston where the police and army was actually deployed, the quarantine was very much effectuated as this article illustrates: Looking through the windows seems to have been prohibited and enforced through the threats of weapons.
While this event was unfolding I was thinking of the descriptions that Michel Foucault makes in his seminar Abnormal (Les Anormaux) at the College de France (1975) of a Medieval/Renaissance city when contaminated by the Plague. Foucault distinguishes two things historically: the negative reaction to cases of leprosy in the same city that consists in the effective exclusion of the sick bodies from it, to the point that they are declared socially dead; and the positive (in the sense that there is an inclusion) reaction to the Plague that provokes a state of emergency and the absolute reorganization of the city according to a quadrillage which has been not so well translated into partitioning. Quadrillage involves indeed a sort of physical or virtual partitioning of a space, but it also implies a detailed, systematic and extensive examination of this same space by a controlling entity. Such an action is thoroughly described by Foucault in his class of January 15th 1975 in this same seminar:
We see them so many times every day that we barely pay attention to them anymore. However, those little symbols of gender differentiation constitute the operative symbol of a society that was built upon the strict separation of the male and female genders. Of course, we could start by the obvious, observing that the typical and ubiquitous bathrooms’ doors symbols shows, for the sake of immediate understanding, a woman wearing a dress and a man wearing pants. The very fact that anybody is able to understand the universality of this symbol is symptomatic of the problem here. But let us go further; the observation that women can wear pants and men dresses could be said to be the degree zero of the awareness of a gender issue. This degree zero is what lead us to fight for the equality of gender and the basic recognition of several sexualities, none of which should be stigmatized. The next degree of awareness of the problem is that the very fact of posing the latter with the terms of women and men as I just did contributes to its perpetuation. In other words, we should not content ourselves with a sort of elementary feminism and elementary counter-homophobia, even if those are still actively needed. The hideous manifestations of homophobia from the Christian right wing in France (who precisely use stereotypical symbols of a classic heterosexual family) against gay marriage and adoption prove it. The contentment of these struggles would contributes to a form of equality, that is true; however, this equality would be between the same two genders, or between four categorical genders (men, women, gay men, gay women). This would simply make the norm evolves and through it, reproduce phenomena of power from the normative bodies to the “pathological” bodies (I am currently re-reading Canguilhem’s Normal and Pathological, hence this terminology). In order not to fall in this “trap”, reading and re-reading Judith Butler‘s work is fundamental as her cautiousness for internal problems in the struggle seems to always equal her participation to the struggle for equality itself as I have been pointing out in a previous article about the processes of normalization.
The interior domestic terrain of the Bioscleave House by Arakawa + Gins
As I recently started a whole section of the blog’s archives dedicated to the work of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, I will be regularly writing new articles for it in order to present their radical architectural work in articulation with their lifework of poetical philosophy (or their philosophical poetry). A whole issue of the Canada based journal iNFLeXions (including a playful and beautiful digital interface) was recently dedicated to their work, thus giving access to about thirty texts written by various intellectual figures interested in the production of the Reversible Destiny Foundation. Among them, there is Stanley Shostak who is a professor in the Department of Biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of two books about death and immortality at the biological level (Becoming Immortal, 2002 & The Evolution of Death, 2006). In his text, Bioscleave: Shaping our Biological Niches, he examines Arakawa and Gins’ manifesto ‘We Have Decided Not To Die” and one of its architectural embodiment, the Bioscleave House (see my own pictures of the house here and here) as a form of resistance against biopolitics (such a topic makes it compatible with Russel Hughes’s guest writer essay for The Funambulist).
Stanley Shostak, who is decided to consider Arakawa and Gins’ thesis with the scientific rigor that his background implies, starts his text with the process that the Bioscleave House should follow if it had to be recognized by the medical industry and its institutions (EMEA for Europe, FDA for the United States) as an operative drug to extend life expectancy. His narrative therefore involves various steps of experiments on bodies that would be subjected to a daily life in the house. The precise care put by Arakawa and Gins in the resolution of every architectural details as serving their manifesto (not only the terrain itself but also all the other creatures procedures involved, color, furnitures etc.), could then serve its purpose and be experimented as actually operative or not.
In the 48th issue (Spring 2012) of the excellent journal Multitudes dedicated to the notion of “political counter-fiction”, Belgium sociologist Frédéric Claisse publishes an article entitled Contr(ôl)efiction: de l’Empire à l’Interzone (Control/Counter Fiction: From the Empire to the Interzone) that I propose to translate some excerpts here. As the title suggests, this article is mostly revolving around William Burroughs. His work is put within a Foucauldian perspective analyzing the society of control (see Deleuze’s text about it in a previous post). The first paragraph of the article introduces perfectly what is as stake within it: the systematic suggestion of desire as an apparatus of control (original French version of the text is at the end of the article, all translations are mine):
« How long does it take a man to learn that he does not, cannot want what he ‘wants’ » (William S. Burroughs, The Western Lands). We have to understand the importance of the suspicion that Burroughs puts in these quotation marks: I am not the author of my desire; this desire is someone else’s fiction. The autonomy that I have been graciously granted, through the means of mass communication systems among others, is nothing else than a “trick” used by a control authority to make me think that my desires are actually mine when, really, they belong to it. Words carried by this authority are words of orders whose action program is simple: contagion and dependency. The experience of addiction gave the author of the Naked Lunch a particular sensitivity to observe those processes that make us accomplice to our own slavery. Drug gives him the general scheme of human relationships in the information era. Language itself is a virus. We are all intoxicated of injunctions that colonize our conscience and use us as vehicle to go from one body to another.
The Power of Architecture – photomontage by the author (2012)
Recently, I was lucky enough to be asked to write an article for the seventh issue of the Chilean journal SPAM and I decided to use this opportunity to articulate the clumsy addition of ideas that I started to touch on during June’s “Foucault’s week.” I hope that the following text, Foucault and Architecture: The encounter that never was, is therefore a good synthesis of the argument I was trying to explore: Despite what architects might usually think, Michel Foucault never truly engaged the problem of the political power of architecture but rather kept investigating the notion of diagram. When confronted to this observation, we might find interesting to keep a Foucauldian method to address architecture.
Foucault and Architecture: The encounter that never was
by Léopold Lambert
curated by SPAM
A certain amount of architects often refers to Michel Foucault’s work as an inspiration to their design or their theoretical interpretation of our societies. The concepts invoked are almost always the same, and it is not rare to find in an architecture text, the notions of panopticon, heterotopia and/or utopian body. The thesis that I would like to defend in this text does not consist so much in the demonstration of architects’ misunderstanding of Foucault’s concepts, but rather that those spatial notions constituted only the frail premises of what could have been the Foucauldian interpretation of space. The research work that he produced through the fastidious descriptions of mechanisms of power involved within the institutions helps us to determine the precision that such an interpretation requires. To be a Foucauldian architect does not therefore consists in the repetition of his theses, but rather in their extension to which should be applied the same cogency. As a matter of fact, the first thing that a Foucauldian architect needs to understand consists in the paradoxical fact that Foucault underestimated the power contained by architecture as such.
Carceri d’invenzione by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1750)
For the last ‘episode’ of this series of articles around the work of Michel Foucault, I would like to evoke the second favorite Foucauldian concept (the first one being the panopticon) that architects like to use, the heterotopia. As a matter of fact, this term, dropped in the architectural discourse became almost an argument in itself like an incantation – and I plead guilty about that myself for having used it often without any real meaningful deepening. The responsibility for that can only be half devolved to architects as this concept has been only loosely defined by Foucault himself, who was probably not considering it as one of his strongest inventions.
The word heterotopia is first used by Foucault in his preface of The Order of Things (1966) for which the topos (space) involved is a metaphorical space in the language. Few months later, he dedicates one of his two lectures for the radio broadcast France Culture (audio at the end of the article) -the other one being the Utopian Body quoted in another article- to this concept. In 1967 eventually, he writes a text entitled Of Other Spaces (text at the end of the article), which transcribes the radio lecture on paper and add to it a list of principles that defines the heterotopia. Two main characteristics of those ‘other spaces’ consists in their circumscription by a clear border as well as the prevalence of specific rules that are applied on this territory.
The examples given by Foucault are so various (gardens, ships, prisons, cemeteries, vacation village, museums, brothels) that we might want to wonder what they have in common. If we follow the concept of heterotopia, what they have in common is their difference (hetero) with the dominant space (topos). The problem, in that case, is that a space cannot be declared as heterotopia as such, but rather is an heterotopia from the point of view of another space. For the sailor, the ship is not an heterotopia; it is the milieu that he lives in and for which he participates to construct a norm. When he finally set foot on an island, he is experiencing this other space which establishes rules that he is not fully accustomed to. Every space is delimited and is subjected to rules, rites and norms and can therefore be considered as heterotopia from the point of view of another space.
Although this title is very ambitious, the following article will only focus on Michel Foucault‘s reading of a specific architectural typology, the hospital, and even more specifically, the “physical” hospital rather than the psychiatric institution for which he also dedicated a lot of his work. In October 1974, Foucault gives a few lectures at The Institute of Social Medicine in Rio de Janeiro. The third one is transcribed under the name The Incorporation of the Hospital into Modern Technology (see text at the end of the article) and will appear in various volumes, including the very interesting Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography edited by Jeremy W. Crampton and Stuart Elden (Ashgate 2007.)
Through this text, Foucault as an archeologist of ideas introduces a shift in the 18th century -era that marks the beginning of modernity in many texts he wrote- from a place to die to a place to be cured. He starts his text with the research accomplished respectively by John Howard and Jacques Tenon in the 1780′s which led to the careful reading of how space was influencing the recovery or the death of a patient:
The last ‘episode’ of this series was based on a text in which Gilles Deleuze was referring to a chapter of Discipline and Punish in order to analyze Michel Foucault‘s interpretation of the power as a strategy rather than a possession. From this chapter, entitled The Body of the Condemned, we can extract a shorter excerpt that will be the topic of this article; we can call it The Political Technology of the Body (text at the end of the article). Through it, Foucault attempts to propose a reading of the body, not as a biological organism, but rather as a target for a political subjection as much as an anatomical mean of production:
the body is also directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs.
the body becomes a useful force only if it is both a productive body and a subjected body. This subjection is not only obtained by the instruments of violence or ideology; it can also be direct, physical, pitting force against force, bearing on material elements, and yet without involving violence; it may be calculated, organized, technically thought out; it may be subtle, make use neither of weapons nor of terror and yet remain of a physical order.
Panopticon plan by Jeremy Bentham (1791)
In the last ‘episode’, I was evoking the will of Michel Foucault to be considered as a cartographer. In a text written for the journal Critique (dec 1975), Gilles Deleuze proposes an analysis of the book Surveiller et Punir: Naissance de la prison (Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison) under the title: Un Nouveau Cartographe (A new cartographer). Through this text, Deleuze introduces Foucault’s method to map the mechanisms of power (which legitimizes somehow the fact that he has been called a structuralist) as well as his very definition of power: (French original version is at the end of this article)
[Power] is less a property than a strategy, and its effects cannot be attributed to an appropriation ‘but to dispositions, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, functionings’; ‘it is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the “privilege”, acquired or preserved, of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positions.’
Power has no essence; it is simply operational. It is not an attribute but a relation: the power-relation is the set of possible relations between forces, which passes through the dominated forces no less than through the dominating, as both these forces constitute unique elements
Drawing by André Masson for Georges Bataille’s journal: Acéphale (1936-39)
”Mon Corps, Topie Impitoyable.” With these words, Michel Foucault starts his radio-lecture for France-Culture, The Utopian Body in 1966 (English translation transcript and French original radio version below). Those four words have been translated in English by “My body, pitiless place” but it does not commute its meaningful vibrancy when pronounced verbally. Without understanding French, you can still probably fathom the inexorable characteristics of the topos (place in greek) associated to its verbal inverse, pito of impitoyable.
This key sentence is revealing the difficulty of the text despite its accessible style. Through it, Foucault establishes a dialectical strategy to introduce the relationship between the body and utopias. His first argument for which utopias have been created to escape from this topie impitoyable is only enunciated in order to be denied later by his real thesis. The latter places the body as “the point zero of the world”, the center of each perception and by extension, the center of every utopia:
Potere Operaio (Worker Power) in the late 60′s Italy
In 1977, Anti-Oedipus -written by Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze in 1971- is released in its translated American version with a preface written by Michel Foucault. Through this short text, Foucault praises Anti-Oedipus, calling it “a book of ethics” as it proposes a non-totalizing subjectivity to interpret the human body and its social involvement. As always, he is interested in the relations of power implied in Deleuze and Guattari’s writings and he finishes his text by describing how they managed to “to neutralize the effects of power linked to their own discourse.” In this dimension, lies an important aspect of Foucault’s analysis of the mechanisms of power. Even resistance to a dominant power carries its own logic of power and, in this regard, requires to be thought and acted with awareness and precaution. That is how, in this text, Foucault comes up with a sort of invective to each ‘resistant’ in the form of a manifesto:
Today, I would like to start a series that will attempt to do for Michel Foucault what I managed to do with Gilles Deleuze in June 2011: an entire week dedicated to the philosopher with one article a day. For this occasion, I would like to open a new category in the blog’s archives, listing the articles dedicated to Foucault. In fact, this kind of series is as much an opportunity to think about such a rich work like Foucault’s, as to construct an archive of a thinker who strongly influences the way the problems questioned on this blog are being interrogated and though about.
In order to remain awake and critical of a work, which itself was advocating for a continuous criticality towards mechanisms of power whichever they were, I would like to start this week with a piece of text in which I believe that Foucault underestimated the (oppressive) power of architecture.
This text (see below) is extracted from an interview he did with Paul Rabinow in 1982 and that is often used by architects as an alternative to the recurrent and often misunderstood interpretation of the panopticon (that we will probably not discuss about this week). Architecture is specifically named and addressed in it and therefore constitutes an easy entrance door to Foucault’s work for architects. In this regard, in addition of being published in The Foucault Reader edited by Paul Rabinow himself (Penguin, 1991), one can also find it in the very useful Architecture Theory since 1968 edited by K. Michael Hays and published by the MIT Press (2000).
Prison San Vittore – Milan (built in 1880)
Pedro Hernández (La Periferia Domestica) was kind enough to send me a link towards a site of Manchester school of architecture that traced a concise timeline of the Panopticon prison both as an idea and as an architecture. The following documents are using the same existing examples giving by this site. It is interesting to observe in this regard that the post-revolution prison in UK and France shifted from the dark dungeon like La Bastille to the enlighten panopticon. The panopticon, formalized by Jeremy Bentham has been then conceptualized as the paradigmatic scheme of the disciplinary society by Foucault. However this society does not apply to the one we currently live in the Western world (see a previous article about the society of control). Architects should probably get cautious not to attribute to the panopticon the monopoly of the architecture of power as the latter applies itself in it only via the mean of vision. In fact, the phenomenological application of power will never be as strong as the material one, and the solutions to escape or deceive the former are not as easy than for the latter.
In this regard, see the series about cinematographic escape on BLDGBLOG (1, 2, 3 & 4)
See also a previous article I wrote about BIG’s immanent panopticon (in opposition to the transcendental one described in this article)
To go further read the good book Forms of Constraint by Norman Johnston