chapter  5
19 Pages

Designing security: Control society and MoMA’s SAFE: Design Takes on Risk


The philosopher Gilles Deleuze describes the emergence of societies of control in a brief essay fi rst published in 1990. The objective of control societies, he argues, is to use new technologies and biopolitical policy instruments to “modulate” bodies, behaviors, markets, territories, buildings, ecologies, battlespaces, networks, and biocriminals. But it is also to break down the distinction between interior and exterior “sites of confi nement.” The dream of modular life in control society is to adapt fast to all problems and opportunities that emerge-terrorism, human-generated climate change, new economic practices, global diseases, fi nancial crises, new forms of networked social interactions-in order to, in the words of Michel Foucault, optimize a state of life.1 Control society combines geopolitical hype(r)-power (as Timothy W. Luke describes it in his chapter in this volume) with increased privatization of safety to form a “biopolitics 2.0.” With this combination, new technologies make possible the proliferation of mini-panopticons, individuals become active components in the fabric of control, and “border checks” are found everywhere.2 As a character in Philip K. Dick’s novel A Scanner Darkly (an exploration of a future war on drugs) observes:

Ahead, one of those giant shopping malls surrounded by a wall that you bounced off like a rubber ball-unless you had a credit card on you and passed in through the electronic hoop. Owning no credit card for any of the malls, he could depend only on verbal reports as to what the shops were like inside.3