2.6 Twenty-Four Hour Tourist

 

Heterotopia
In an essay by novelist Alan Lightman, he describes one of Einstein’s dreams as “a place where time stands still: the place where we idealize life like a photograph,” capturing a perfect moment. Philosopher Michel Foucault describes, “A heterotopia or space of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror.” The irony is that in that heterotopia, where time stands still, there is no life. Lightman describes time traveling outward in rotating concentric circles, resting at the center. The things that are the closest to the center of time move at a glacial pace, picking up speed in greater diameters towards the outer rings. Present life only exists in the outer rings, where things are moving fast and uncontrollable.

In Twenty-Four Hour Tourist I examine this concept of time standing still in an autobiographical and nostalgic way. Through three-dimensional typography, I visualize
the concentric rings of time, starting in 1977, the year I was born, and moving outward to the present day. In contrast to the typography, I juxtapose self-made childhood home videos to represent memories of a place where time stands still in my mind. The footage shows clips of a family vacation taken in Hawaii in 1992. The image of a surfer represents a place where time stands still. The surfer riding a wave is a metaphor for trying to capture and hold onto something that is ephemeral. Just as the video almost stops and fades to black, the viewer is quickly pulled back to the high speed pace of life that exists on the outer rings.

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2.15 Panopticon of Joy

Elevation, section and plan of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, drawn by Willey Reveley, 1791

False Security
In Discipline and Punish, philosopher Michel Foucault builds on philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s conceptualization of a panopticon as he elaborates upon the function of disciplinary mechanisms in the prison, while illustrating the function of discipline as an apparatus of power. The “panoptic” style of architecture may be used in other institutions with surveillance needs such as schools, factories or hospitals. The ever-visible inmate, Foucault suggests, is always “…the object of information, never a subject in communication.” As hinted at by the architecture, this panoptic design can be used for any “population” that needs to be kept under observation or control, such as prisoners, schoolchildren, medical patients or workers.

Panopticon of Joy Camera Set Up 1–7 Top View

With all the documentary and time-lapse work I have been developing, many people have mentioned they think I am using surveillance techniques to capture my subject matter. I don’t consider that my work uses surveillance as a tactic, but I can understand that misinterpretation. In Panopticon of Joy, I undertake a tongue-in-cheek experiment that makes me realize that no matter how many cameras I put on my daughter Joy, I have no power or control, just a false sense of security.

Panopticon of Joy, 2012, Video Stills

Panopticon of Joy uses seven different cameras to document Joy’s behavior and displays the footage in an interactive split screen application. Within the application the user is able to select the camera view options and manipulate the speed as well as forward and reverse the file. The user may feel like he has control over the videos, but soon realizes that controlling the cameras speed and direction of the video is fruitless.