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Designer Security: Control Society and MoMA's SAFE: Design Takes on Risk

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date04/2008
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Journal number2-3
Volume39
Number of pages25
Pages333-357
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article suggests that Gilles Deleuze's writings on societies of control provide useful insights on changing configurations of biopower in contemporary societies. However, far from the dystopias depicted in many popular visions of the future, such as the films THX 1138 and Minority Report, societies of control are being shaped by the work of designers, creating the potential for an `ecology of control' that can become `benignly' woven into our lives. MoMA's exhibition SAFE: Design Takes On Risk is a fascinating introduction to designers' responses to risk and insecurity around the planet, along with work that interrogates critically our obsessions with risk, control, and insecurity. SAFE illustrates an emerging synergy between designers and policymakers that makes possible the intensification of control society through products of `communectivity' (such as the ironic `Homeland Security Blanket') and designer security. Indeed, `designing in' protection and `designing out' insecurity are mantras that are increasingly important to contemporary discourses of security in risk-obsessed states. The article expresses the author's concern that discourses of design and security suppress anxiety about the ethico-political consequences of control society, along with broader issues of security politics, at the same time as they install new policy initiatives and `synergies' through the desire to design out insecurity.