Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Panopticon -- an area where everything is visible; a building so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point; a circular prison with cells distributed around a central surveillance station.

"In 1791, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham proposed an architectural innovation designed to lead to safe, humane prisons. He envisioned a prison space constructed as a circular array of inward-pointing cells. Solid walls between the cells would prevent any communication between prisoners, and a small window in the back of the cell would let in light to illuminate the contents. At the center of the ring of cells, Bentham placed an observation tower with special shutters to prevent the prisoners from seeing the guards. This 'all-seeing place', or panopticon, was designed to provide complete observation of every prisoner."

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