SURVEILLANCE
From Control to Disequilibrium


Architectural Association / AA School / London


AA DRL Design as Research / 2012

Surveillance is based on the synergy among information, networks and technology, in order to provide optimal responses.
In surveillance, the subject becomes the object, just as we can see in Gordon Pask’s technological applications of cybernetics, where interaction between machines and humans changed both of them. In fact, the whole system shifted.
Instead, his colleague Stafford Beer used biological populations to understand this science of management and control, which he later translated to operational research. He made evident that global economics, politics and society already performed biological-like processes.
This essay explores how technology is used as an operational tool to collect real-time data, and perform possible scenarios, so as to anticipate and improvise, in what Manuel Castells calls the ‘Network Society’. Globalization, innovation and flux work in a net of nodes and links, where its variable geometry and the switching power of the influential hubs lead it to a lack of stasis. It has turned into a neo-biologist model.
Therefore, surveillance triggers scaleless changes and disequilibrium. So, this paper will analyze and explore to which extent optimization is achieved and, consequently, what surveillance represents in terms of control.


by Carles Sala