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System Error: Complicity with Surveillance in Contemporary Workplace Documentaries

Ring, A; (2016) System Error: Complicity with Surveillance in Contemporary Workplace Documentaries. Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies , 52 (4) pp. 465-489. 10.3138/seminar.52.4.07. Green open access

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Abstract

This article sets itself against the bulk of scholarship on surveillance, which is characterized by emphasis either on Michel Foucault’s analysis of the Panopticon, or on Gilles Deleuze’s too-brief “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” In contrast to these dominant critical paradigms, the article recuperates a mode of governmentality proposed in Foucault’s last lectures on “Security,” in order to draw out the latent instabilities that beset contemporary surveillance systems and hence reveal the possibility of resisting them. The article’s recuperation of “Security” proceeds by way of close readings of workplace documentaries by radical filmmakers Harun Farocki (Die Schöpfer der Einkaufswelten, Ein neues Produkt, and other films) and Carmen Losmann (Work Hard Play Hard). When analyzed in concert with Foucault’s neglected late lectures, and in a final move with the post-Freudian theory of perversion, these films prompt new reflection on complicity with surveillance and, importantly, the unexpected potential of that complicity as an error in the systems of contemporary workplaces and leisure-spaces.

Type: Article
Title: System Error: Complicity with Surveillance in Contemporary Workplace Documentaries
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3138/seminar.52.4.07
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3138/seminar.52.4.07
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: complicity, documentary, Harun Farocki, governmentality, Carmen Losmann, Panopticon, perversion, “Postscript on the Societies of Control” (Gilles Deleuze), psychoanalysis, Security, Territory, Population (Michel Foucault), surveillance
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1570401
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