Michel Foucault's Theory of the City


23 Mar 2015 11 Dec 2017

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In this essay I will discuss and plain how the city is represented as place of power and surveillance, using Michel Foucault's ‘the means of correct training' in his discipline and punish (1977) and the film 28 weeks later where I will pick four scenes from the film. I will discuss and explain how the film deals with the notions of institutional and private rights, how visual design might represent notions of surveillance and oppression through (space, colours juxtapositions, and characters); and finally, how the city is represented through various ways of looking /imaging.

The shift to consumerist city has marked changes in the surveillance and control of urban space through an innumerable technologies and moral practice. These type of change happed as cities tries to rebrand and remarket themselves within local regions' nationally and internationally in order to compete with the current capital investment markets. Visual politics of the street underpins changes in urban and its governance, thereby creating risk- taking business that focuses on creating visually pleasing spaces via architecture to regulate to practices surveillance not only in urban spaces but also in suburbs places.

canary wharf can be seen as primary example of this panopticon described in Michel Foucault discipline and punish in the means of correct training. In his book he describe panopticon as all round the clock functioning surveillance machine which is designed to insure that no prisoner could ever see the inspector who conduct the surveillance from his control room to the radial (central location within the radial configuration).

Hi goes on saying.... The prisoner could never know when he was being surveyed - in the instant of the scene in 28 weeks later where the commanding officers ware surveying on the survivors by using machine guns at night time or in the instant the ware the architecture of the building /façade was designed with glass, which in this case the inspector had a full control and awareness of the activities conducted by not only the survivors but also the survivors were aware of the presence of the commanding forces around them. There individual rights at this stage.... could be manipulated and cause destruction for the institutional powers. I will feather explore this scenario as I progress feather is this assay.

In the same time considering the survivors were aware of been watched at all times, the mental uncertainty and the anxiety of been quoted doing anything against the set up rules in itself enough to discipline them.

Due to high effect of ponopticon in the film were the survivors are injected with this state of mind that surveillance is present at all times and that automatic full functioning power is around the clock, and no uncharacterized behaviors will be tolerated.

In this instant, the survivors are caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too little that the survivors are constantly watched by a CCTV cameras and commanding forces, to the extent that the survivor is aware of been watched but in the same time there is no need for him or her to be observed. In such Circumstances Bentham laid down the following principle that “power should be visible and unverifiable. ” he went in saying visible that the inmate /patient will constantly have before them the central tower in front of them/ (control room in the instant of the 28 weeks later film) which there spied upon, and unverifiable that the inmate/patience or the survivors under no Circumstances should he/she know whether is been watched, but he must know he may always be so. But in the 28 weeks later film from the scene nine where the commanding forces from the top unit were surveying on the survivors at night time. In this scene we see how surveillance is conducted without the knowledge of survivors. One sees everything without been seen.

In this scenario we see the same principles been mentioned in bentham book in panopticism been repeated in the film Where the commanding forces where using high tech machine guns and CCTV cameras to insure all the people were where they were supposed to be and insuring orders were kept at all times. With the aid mordern of architecture power could be exercised to its fullest effect and individual rights were at no place to question the institutional power. Putting into consideration the main location where the power was enforced and practiced was in canary wharf, one can clearly see how power is immediately portrayed without even questioning the forerunner's aim. (Scene seven)

Bentham goes on saying...... “the Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen”. He continue saying “it is an important mechanism for optimizing and disindvidualising power.” Here we see Bentham say panopticon is not a bad thing when is used for the right reasons; he give examples of the usefulness of the panopticon...he says “it makes it possible to draw up differences among patients and also to observe symptoms of each individual, in education it make it possible to observe performances. And among workers” it makes it possible to note the aptitudes of each worker, compare the time he takes to perform a task.

“But the Panopticon was also a laboratory; it could be used as a machine to carry out experiments, to alter behavior, to train or correct individuals. To experiment with medicines and monitor their effects. To try out different punishments on prisoners, according to their crimes and character, and to seek the most effective ones.”

Power is not the activity or the subject of knowledge that creates main parts of knowledge that opposes power, but is the power- knowledge and the struggles of those who goes through it determines the forms and possible domains of knowledge. http://cartome.org/foucault.htm

which in the film when Andy's mum was found had to be put under strict surveillance to prevent out-break of the virus but then when individual and institutional power are combined as seen in scene fourteen one of the power either for the individual or institution surfers severely or in most cases they both do.


in the reading of Michel Foucault discipline and punish; and in the film 28 weeks later one can draw many conclusion on how surveillance and institutional powers are conducted' and how the city is viewed as a place of power. But in the same time we see when individual power and rights are exercised simultaneously cause severe consequences ; for example in scene 1,. Especially when Tammy and Andy decided to go to their old home to collect some of their possession here we see Tammy and Andy wanted to be free, they wanted to something that would remind them of their mother but under the rules set in the comp they were not permitted to leave the premises. As a result they rebelled and consequently brought back the virus in the camp and the end result most the survivors were exterminated, infected by the virus and the only survivors left in the whole city were them. My point is power should only be exercised when knowledge lead and it should be exercised by one part at a time to avoid collision.

Joe Kerr, Andrew Gibson, London from punk to Blair http://books.google.co.uk: city watch, 131-13,

M. Foucault, 1977, Discipline and punishment, means of correct training, France: Gallimard

Richard J. Williams. (2004). the anxious city. US andCanada, English urbanism in the late twentieth century. the anxious city 1, 10-19



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