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The Eye of Providence: Are We Living in a Science-Fiction Future?

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Scott Porter
University of Strathclyde Glasgow UK
Present day society is living in a time envisioned by Science-Fiction novelists. This work focuses on one of the twentieth century’s most significant writers of the genre: Philip K. Dick. Eight of his stories have been adapted since his death in 1982 into film. Three of these share a common premise; a paranoid culture under continuous surveillance, which possess significant and symbolic imagery of the human eye, whilst demonstrating how observation of the individual can be accomplished. Through a journey of scale, expressing the extent of surveillance and the variation of privacy, the imagery and concepts of each film is analysed and compared with that of society today. This modern day comparison will concentrate on Britain, since it operates twenty percent of the world’s total surveillance cameras, alongside other methods of watching, and has already been labelled an “Endemic Surveillance Society.”

Beginning with the micro scale of the domicile, A Scanner Darkly (2006) explores paranoia, the intrusive hidden surveillance and how unaware society is of the ever-shrinking watchful eyes enclosing it, whilst comparing this notion to the dwelling of the average citizen in Britain today in an attempt to find parallels. Progressing to the intermediate scale of the neighbourhood, Minority Report (2002) highlights the nation’s willingness to submit itself to surveillance and compares that to present society’s naïve attitude towards advancing modern technologies. Finally and most famously the macro scale of Blade Runner (1982) investigates the powerful imagery and symbolism of the eye, how surveillance can be used as an authoritative tool to control the people and spaces through paranoia and considers Society today to be one nationwide Panopticon.

The investigation of these three films seeks to determine if these adaptations of Dick's prophecies portray an accurate depiction of the present in terms of a paranoid transparent society under constant surveillance. Are we inevitably headed for the world conjured up in Dick’s paranoid mind or are we already living it?

Scott Porter

David Reat
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