Being part of a community is important for our sense of belonging and our capacity to relate to others. These are crucial elements in the development of a healthy social life, and in private life as well. Through voluntary encounters and relationships with one another, parameters for interaction are established through common understanding - parameters specific to place, time, weather, a person’s appearance…Surroundings and degrees of self-awareness become integral to how one operates in society. The gaze is one of the most efficient and intricate gestures of awareness because through it, in keeping track of everybody else, the self becomes visible as well.
In the video MARCHA the gaze is explored as an act revealing doubt and power. When we look at others, especially within an institutionalized context, our urge to imitate is awakened by the necessity and desire to fit in. Structures of power emerge, not so much in terms of the individual but rather they form between the watcher and the watched within concerted distributions of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes; arrangements that order and manage the individual caught up within. Discipline is maintained by constant surveillance, including an internalized surveillance of the self, which regulates the behavior of individuals within the social body. Considering Foucault’s use of the Panopticon as a metaphor for structures of social control, I focus on the gaze as a means of both expressing and revealing power through visibility-as-knowledge. This allows me to explore the relationship between structures and mechanisms of control in the context of institutionalized performance of discipline.
The video is divided into two screens, each focusing on different moments of the same event: rehearsals and training for a large-scale military parade. One screen displays a series of gazes. The characters, constantly looking out, exhibit an ambiguous sense of focus – perhaps concerned with their appearance, or maybe just keeping track of others. I utilize their faces, revealing doubt and vulnerability, to comment on the relationship between disciplinary power and an individual sense of self. The second video is about the complete loss of individualization – the march – but also how, through this loss, one gets to be part of the institution, part of a community. Where order determines the mise-en-scene of the military apparatus, I use repetition in the shot to emphasize how, as a form of power, it penetrates their behaviors. Editing out their faces through framing, I show the characters executing the regimented gestures of the institution, presented to them to embody or emulate; modes of address, uniform, bodily expression – reinforcing the internal mechanisms of the apparatus. I am not using military imagery to comment on the loss of personal freedom but as a way to understand the structures and function of surveillance and control. The transition from one screen to another represents a move toward a society in which discipline is based on observation and examination. Presenting the videos side-by-side creates a dialogic interconnection, emphasizing and drawing tension between the two, mirroring the circular process of acquiring and maintaining knowledge and power.
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