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Panopticons within panopticons: surveillance inversions in Willie Doherty’s video installations

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Postcolonial Writing
Issue number5
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)539-551
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date15/10/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


From the understanding that postcolonialism is linked to power structures, and that surveillance activity is a means for knowledge acquisition, this article considers different ways of seeing/being seen as avenues for gaining control. It addresses such notions with reference to Northern Ireland, a region in the UK confused over its colonial/postcolonial identity, and takes into consideration its geopolitical position as well as its internal complex web of sociopolitical relations. It argues that control occurs at both state and popular culture levels, and that mass media involve a different kind of colonization – which can be seen as psychological. Advancing technologies allow for different kinds of invasion/occupation, and technomediated modes of modern living come complete with adapted exclusions and inclusions. These issues are explored through analysis of video installations by Derry artist Willie Doherty, and with reference to Belfast writer Ciaran Carson’s essay “Intelligence” from Belfast Confetti – both Doherty and Carson focus on “watching” in the (conflicted/occupied) cityscape and the way it affects perception, language and identity. These issues of control and status are discussed here in the light of Foucault’s theorizing of the panopticon and Bhabha’s notions of mimicry and ambivalence.