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Reconnaissance: Inside the Panopticon

Reconnaissance: Inside the Panopticon 
A low-tech visit to Mexico City’s high-tech urban surveillance center.
In 2014, I visited the surveillance center with a team of 19 artists, architects, and ethnographers. We found ourselves in the middle of a panopticon, where the observers are themselves observed. The C4I4 control room is a three-story cylinder, with dispatchers’ workstations in the middle, arrayed in rows without walls or cubicles. Overhead screens display key events under active surveillance, so that all can see. There are private offices for investigators on the first floor and for administrators on the upper floors. Supervisors have an unobstructed view of the dispatchers, but the dispatchers do not have a clear view of them. As the upper levels lack transparency, both literally and figuratively, these areas afford power to control the gaze without being subjected to it in turn.
View of the central control room from the observation room. [Sketch by Miguel Ángel Estévez Calderón]
 Incendiary Traces research team in the C4I4 lobby. [CAEPCCM staff photographer]
 Surveillance images shows on the main array of the command center. [Sketch by Hillary Mushkin]

 C4I4 exterior and surveillance camera. [Sketch by Paulina V. Pulido]

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