Alex Bishop-Thorpe
Photographic Artist, Maker
Works | Profile & CV | Field Notes

Eight-Bit Panopticon
Leisured spaces and stages for play

English Philosopher and Social Theorist Jeremy Bentham proposed the Panopticon in the 18th century as a way of dealing with Britain's overpopulated prisons. He designed a structure in which the cells were arranged in a circle around a central tower in such a way that the inmates were never aware if they were being observed by the guards or not, maximising the effectiveness of a small staff to a large number of inmates through constant self-surveillance. The Panopticon has today become a useful analogy for many functions of contemporary society, but the original design was never realised in Bentham's time. A far more cost effective way of dealing with a burgeoning prison class was enacted instead - Transportation to Australia.
By adopting the format of a full three hundred and sixty degree panoramic image, analogous to the panopticon, interrupted through the digital fragmentation of the 0.1 megapixel GameBoy Camera and presented as ephemerous thermally printed images, I intend to draw attention to the Australian landscape as a culturally panoptic space - caught in a feedback loop of us watching it watching us, never at rest.
Road trips form a key methodology for my practice, and this way of exploring the landscape and it's treatment as a leisured space, colonised and receptive of play, is further reinforced through the use of a GameBoy in creating these works.

Catalogue Essay by Ash Tower
Illustration and Catalogue Design by Peter Fong

As featured in A Spectacle of sound and silence - MOFO 2015


This project has been assisted by The South Australian Government through CARCLEW Youth Arts.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.