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Panopticism, Space and Human Behavior

Part 1 Dissertation 2012
Sofia Sfakianaki
Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, UK
My interest in architecture has evolved by considering people’s life and their relationship with space. Amazed by Bentham’s Panoptic Prison (1791), a representative building of cognitive architecture, I was interested in exploring the power of knowledge in revealing facts of people’s behavior and the power of space in communicating certain behaviors. In other words, I am approaching architecture as spaces which trigger perception and human behavior.

Our society has been evolving and over the last decades we have witnessed the rise of a new panopticon taking shape, the digital panopticon; a new form of Panopticism based on innovative technologies. CCTVs and Internet Applications represent the actual shift from the physical to the digital panopticon, where exposure and monitoring maintains an indirect way of control, in the name of security, and commercializing everyday life to create and form products matching every citizen, or in its eyes a secure consumer.

The focus of the dissertation is the communicative function of space, in both its digital and physical form. The idea is to show how the structures of thought have been applied as the power geometries of physical and digital architecture. By examining the relationship between the brain and the environment it is evident how architectural-cognitive mechanisms condition human behavior.

The application and consequences of panoptic mechanisms to people’s everyday life, made me consider the morality of architecture in terms of privacy, morality and dignity. Panoptisim in all of its forms introduces a new term of visibility. A term that nowadays has been considered a one way transparency. Both direct and indirect constant inspection has lead people to the point of adopting defense mechanisms to feel protected in the public eye.

Sofia Sfakianaki

Mr Geoffrey Makstutis
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