Panopticon. Interactive instalation

In this installation we experiment with the behavior of the visitor when feels observed.

In the so-called technological era, we realized the reason that Baudelaire had when he spoke of the figure of the ‘flâneaur’ who wanders the streets aimlessly, open to the vicissitudes and impressions we face every day, only that, to this day , the whole society walks lost in the digitalization. Immersed in constant technological advances, in a continuous bombardment of images and a saturation more than evident by the media, etc., the human being has contracted a brutal dependence with all electronic rigging, which controls and monitors us equally. And if that does not suffice, sometimes, we voluntarily borrow, submit and let the media penetrate and record our privacy, our daily life. Likewise, it is contradictory that, on the one hand, we deny ourselves and complain about feeling watched and controlled; while, on the other hand, as the artist comments, «we cultivate our ego and we measure self-esteem according to the number of snoops of feats and miseries that we publish on social networks». Juanma Gil plays with the viewer and his perception, in the same way that it highlights the tension between fear and curiosity of the human being. The artist himself considers that: «more than spectators, I consider them visitors or, better still, participants as a form of emancipated spectators. From my point of view the dilemma or the game is not so much between the hidden or unknown as between watching and being watched «A door with a lock seduces us while it invites us to look for it What is on the other side? We need to look at and unveil the secret, our nature demands it from us, it is an intrinsic and inherent phenomenon to people. In this particular case, what is intended is to awaken the public so that they can become aware of the reality that surrounds us and how it affects us, both socially and individually. To what extent does it come to condition us? Gil poses a test, a challenge, which gives rise to experimentation, but he hopes that the visitor will arrive at his own conclusions. The multimedia installation presented by Juanma Gil is a game in itself, an irony, but above all, it is a tribute to the work «Vigilar y punish» by Michel Foucault in 1975, in which he warns that «visibility is a trap» . Through this surveillance lens, the artist tries to provoke reactions before the spectator, under the same control systems of power and knowledge that the French philosopher promulgated. Which leads us to question ourselves: are we mere spectators of our life? We observe and observe us, there is an inherent tension, a game that the human being is unable to eradicate from his nature. When we speak of «game» we speak of a concept that encompasses different meanings, with a very broad meaning. But perhaps among all of them, it should be noted that it comes from the Latin «Iocus»: joke, joke, grace. Having said that, we will see first hand how Juanma Gil shows a reality, a latent problem through irony, the joke, which originates and we identify with our own eyes when they persecute us and accompany us throughout the exhibition. In this way, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s concept, which gives the exposition its title, is revived and allows the vigilante to observe (-opticon) everyone (pan-) without being able to know if they are being observed or not.

Irene Grás
Art critic