New Agoraphobia: Reclaiming Controllability in a Society of Total Surveillance
Increasingly ubiquitous forms of surveillance networks and methods are becoming commonplace in today’s societies. While their application is rational and for the most part beneficial their presence effects the perception of space, eroding margins of privacy, increasing pressure on public space, and in some cases perpetuating unjustifiable feelings of persecution and mental unrest. These consequences reduce individual control over one’s environment and furthermore represent an instance of a type of space itself creating anxieties, similarly to the onset of agoraphobia in the 1860’s. Applying a tripartite design approach of three different scales to a hypothetical scenario of an escalated total surveillance society in an urban setting leads to an exploration of physical space and the spatialisations of power and emotion in the issues of overexposure, crowding, and loss of control. Through the resulting designs it is demonstrated how an informed application of thresholds, materiality, and physically reconfigurable environments in built form can allow for instances of relief and grounding, the gesture such a relief provides itself also embodies intent and reaction, furthering the physical with a symbolic and psychosocial response.