What is a penny worth these days? Not a heck of a lot if we look at a penny as a unit of currency. But the adage, a penny for your thoughts, brings to light the idea that a penny, not as a unit of currency but as a symbol of something bigger, can really go a long ways. The penny, in the saying, is perhaps a metaphor for an instrument of exchange. In this respect, a penny can be a social prompt, like the annoying stop light that forces you to consider how that stop-light ever even got there in the first place and what social consideration prompted regulators to implement such systems of control. A penny might be a friend who challenges your marxist ideals, a challenge that leads you to ponder a different form of social structure. A penny is an instigator. A penny is a catalyst. And cumulatively, many pennies can breed many things, thoughts and ideas.

Admittedly, Pennies and Panopticons, is a school assignment. But what P&P also is, is a place to discuss the seemingly banal ways in which we engage in power relations. Take for a minute, the Panopticon. A Panopticon, in Jeramy Bentham’s design, is merely an annular premise (in his case a prison), whereby on observer can observe his subjects from the centre of the premise without the subjects being aware of whether they are being observed, thereby imposing a sentiment of omnipresence onto the observed and in some way or another controlling their behavior without activating force or constrictive action. While the idea is still used in prisons today, perhaps the most realistic example of a panopticon in today’s era is in the security camera that’s perched atop a downtown street lamp or clinching the side of a building. We know they are there, but do we know who, or better said, if, someone is watching?

It is my intention through P&P is to bring the banal into forefront, question the unquestioned and expose the power of the individual.


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