ArtJunk
No. 10—2024

Panopticon

Tony Conrad

Info: Tony Conrad’s multi-channel video installation Panopticon, 1988, sets five monitors within a painted cardboard model of a town. Overhead, a satellite appears to be beaming out information, and a network (made of orange plastic fencing) stretches over the cityscape. In the videos, Conrad implies he is watching CCTV footage in five different locations: the mall, the video retail store, the news station, the art gallery, the living room. In each case, the people he is watching are directed by commercial impulses, but they are also potential recruits as active producers. Made at a moment in which camcorder home video equipment was entering the consumer market in the US, Conrad’s installation aimed to dispel viewers’ expectations regarding high production values and narrative composition, inviting them to make their own television. Panopticon conflates mainstream media with disciplinary control and reflects Conrad’s career-long interest in art-making as a means of deprogramming habitual norms and countering dominant capitalist logics.

Galerie Buchholz Tony Conrad ArtJunk