This piece from The New York Times (Feb. 2, 2010) got me thinking about the limits of visuality. So many of the forensic shows (fiction and non-fiction) that we examined in this course use the human eye (and “I”) as a way to confirm or explain what visual technologies have rendered. But, from the opening paragraph of this article, it seems as if humans, even well-trained humans, can no longer be trusted with the very basic of criminal law duties: guarding/keeping inmates in prison. Certainly, I’m simplifying the author’s argument, but the history of American law enforcement (not to mention its representation: novels, films, television shows) is replete with stories of human failings regarding the capture, incarceration, and release of prisoners. In the age where public debate rages over whether full-body scanners at the airport are essential or invasive not to mention the fact of whether those employed to take and read the scans are fully qualified or educated to “read” the scans effectively, I found myself wondering whether the prison yet again serves as a microcosm (albeit one where the inmates enjoy intensely abbreviated privacy) for the inner workings of our at-large surveillance society.
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