Riccardo Dogana


About the Project

Panopticon was born after Christchurch; on March 15, 2019, a nationalist terrorist showed himself in a livestream while brutally killing 50 people in a New Zealand mosque. Creating a media show at the expense of human lives, flooding social platforms with millions and millions of copies and alterations of the video uploaded through fake accounts. The video has become data, repro- ducible, indelible, eternal. YouTube is the main search engine for under 25s. It is the place where high school and university students go to do research. It is the second most visited site in the world, preceded only by Google, which owns it. An updated public archive with 500 hours of video per minute and watched over 1 billion hours per day. YT is the largest channel for agnotol- ogy, where you can question anything. Media manipulators “manipulate” the structure.
They op- timize search engines. “If you watch a video from a health organization and then follow their ad- vice or allow autoplay to continue, within two videos you will almost always be watching a con- spiracy video. Because communities that are trying to shape these connections understand how to make new ones. They know connections are important, so they shape them. They know views matter, so they convince their community to watch both videos. You go to YouTube for reasonably informed information and, within a few tips, you are exposed to fringe, extremist or conspiratorial content.” explains Danah Boyd, founder and president of the Data & Society Research Institute.
By selecting macro-themes of the last decade (2010-2020) – emigration, climate change, wars, organized crime, terrorism – I photographed the monitor of my computer with the camera, starting from the point of view of the one who experienced them firsthand, of the professional who was narrating their reality, uploading their own content to YT, in order to recreate a new point of view, mine, sitting at home. Starting from the point of view of the one who experienced them firsthand, of the professional who was narrating their reality – from the civilian who is under a shower of bombs, to the military who resumes operations, to the mountains of Afghanistan seen from target of a sniper, to the spectator of a clandestine cockfight etc. – or from what is selected by television and official information. These photos have become new documents, a new historiographic map- ping of agnotology, new data for the database, to try to confuse it, to manipulate it. Manipulating the aesthetic of YT’s content with photography; the medium that most of all can be contradicted and can manipulate reality.
Photography has allowed me to create my archive with a paper catalog, numbered by event cate- gories (politics, social, news, science, etc.), year and who produced them and where. Detaching myself from the digital one of the database. A work without geographical boundaries, global, where among many minutes of the video I chose the moment that could confuse the system, with a photograph that takes advantage of the ambiguous language of photography.
The panopticon was the ideal prison, conceived in the late 1700s, with a structure that allowed a single supervisor to observe (opticon) all (pan) the subjects of a prison, without allowing them to understand whether they were controlled at that time. Being in control, the invisible power. The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the seeing-being seen couple: in the peripheral ring one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, you can see everything, without ever be- ing seen. (Michel Foucault)
A panopticon of the new millennium where we are prisoners controlled by those who control the database. I decided to end the panopticon research on February 6, 2020, when the train I was travelling on derailed and I found myself by chance the victim of an accident, documented in a television video, and I realized at that moment that I had become the one who was filmed, the one who would enter the database, narrated from the point of view of a journalist, becoming the sub- ject I had been researching for months, experiencing the feeling of being on the other side. Panopticon had to end, the circle had been closed.