For the 360 module students were asked to create three artefacts focusing on three main topics of Power, Spectacle and Memory. The first topic students were asked to approach was Power. There were 2 lectures on this subject that covered several theorists including but not limited to Naomi Klien and Michel Foucault, as well as their respective theories.
One of these theories was the Panopticon, this is a prison design created by Jeremy Bentham to house as many prisoners as possible, with as little guards as possible. Its design consisted of a large circular room with the cells on the outer walls and a guard tower in the centre of the room in which only one guard was needed to watch all the cells in the prison. In order to ensure that the prisoners could not be sure if there was ever a guard inside the tower, or if the tower was ever watching a specific cell at ant one time, a series of fixtures were created so that the guard could see out, but it was in impossible for any prisoner could see inside. The relevance of this to modern day and to Foucault theory is that he believed we now live as a Panopticon nation thanks to systems such as CCTV and internet tracking. Foucault theorised that the general public is now a self policing entity as we live in constant belief that we are being watched and constant fear that if we step out of line or try and rebel against the system then those in power will catch us and punish us. We believe this despite never actually seeing those that are watching us.
Something that I felt very passionate about was the power that words has on those around us, and how language, used correctly can be both empowering, and manipulative at the same time. A good example of this may be politicians, they would have a team of people to write their speeches and every word would be analysed and criticised to ensure that they got the best response possible. Another example in which words can be used as a form of power control is in advertising. Companies use certain words to portray positiveness in their product, these words may not exactly mean anything, but they have a very strong impact on the consumers brain. The idea for my artefact came from a quote by Patrick Rothfuss, who is an America fantasy writer and college lecturer who said
“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
This said to me that although words do have the power to inspire and revolutionise, they also have the power to make people stop and really think about the world and about how they feel. Because I wanted my artefact to provoke an emotion in its audience I began thinking about what type of situations or scenarios people feel most open about their emotions, or when they are most vulnerable. An event that came to mind was the death of a loved one, I myself have felt very vulnerable and very aware of my own mortality after a close family member has passed away, and while I felt uncomfortable using death as subject matter, I knew it would get the desired response from my audience.
This led me to try and connect death with power of words, my immediate thought was to obtain some eulogies or to write some fake ones. The problem with this is that not many people keep the eulogies that they have written and fake ones would have the same impact as ones that obviously had more passion and emotion invested into them.
That is when I came up with the idea of having suicide notes read aloud as the words were displayed on screen.