“The Panopticon is a marvellous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces homogeneous effects of power” (Foucault 1995). Since Jeremy Bentham first outlined his vision of the Panoptic Prison, his model has been passed back and forth between social theorists and consensus has formed around the notion that the Panopticon is power in an ideal form. This performance is meant to illuminate how Panopticism plays out in filming “vlogs” on digital media platforms, such as YouTube. Vlogs are often filmed alone with people filming their self with the understanding that they will be watched, after the editing process, of course. But how will vlogs take form when the audience is already watching? “He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power… he becomes the principle of his own subjection” (Foucault 1995).
Trenton Lee is a PhD Candidate and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster in the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). With a BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies and a MA in Social Media, Culture and Society, he focuses his research at the intersection between political economy and a feminist approach to the understanding of digital media technologies. His doctoral research project is a digital ethnography of YouTube’s creator community, exploring the effects of digital commodification on the identity formation and presentation processes of these entrepreneurial subjects.