Third Estate Music and Dance, Panopticon

Review in Issue 7-4 | Winter 1995

Pnerhaps in response to an increase in public surveillance, Third Estate Music and Dance Company’s Panopticon was a multimedia event questioning whether the camera ‘protects’ or ‘intrudes’ in our lives.

The evening event was free and outside. Viewers gathered around an extended stage in front of Marks and Spencer in Bury’s shopping centre – an established home of ‘24 hour surveillance’.

The fear of technology as an intrusion was enhanced by the urban techno music which blared out police sirens and street sounds. Unfortunately there was no live mixing as this would have highlighted the human control of technology.

The performers, with printed identity tops, were trapped in the barred stage area, watched by guards, cameras relaying their movements onto a TV screen behind them. Their performance displayed responses to confinement. Their counterpoint routines showed a need to protect each other but also to be alone and free.

The performance also showed the absurd human compulsion to ‘react’ to the camera, and the authority of the mystery viewer, by sticking up two fingers and pulling a face. Technology fascinated and frightened them, but the company offered little hope that cameras protect us and implied that we live in a ‘prison without bars’. It certainly felt like that, with a video camera filming the audience watching. But can anything be done to prevent abusive camera use? ‘If I am free, then why is the camera pointing at me?’

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Aug 1995

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-4
p. 24