Signatures and Passwords

September 28, 2011


In The Organizational Complex Reinhold Martin describes architecture as an active system of spaces and subjects which were utilized by corporations in the post-war period as a reduction of their “corporate image”. Martin states that within this specific techno-political era the subject was defined primarily as a consumer. This occurred through mass-production of interchangeable elements whereby the individual differentiated themselves through the choice of infinite variables and possibilities of ‘things’. Martin is interested in how ideas surrounding the modular (and those of Modernism) with their inherent overarching controlling order, begin to represent not corporate authority and their embodied symbolism but rather a much larger decentralised system in which power is embedded in innumerable “microphysical protocols”. These become regulatory systems similarly described by Deleuze in Postscript on Societies of Control and become examples of the emerging “control societies”.

Within the change from disciplionary societies to societies of control the “mark of the individual” is reduced from a signature to a password which protects the subsets of data information of our lives. It is interesting to note that  Facebook (where a password is literally the only protection between one individual and another) has recently come under scrutiny with the implementation of a new user interface which more openly tracks and visualises users activity on the site ( The media around this has led to reports of similarities between the ‘new’ Facebook and Bentham’s panopticon model, with commentators writing “that real-time sharing means we always feel like we’re being watched and this then influences our behaviour” (see article above). Martin would argue that these networks of control have been evident from the post-war period, in the structuring of both communication (ephemeral) infrastructures alongside the physical, however it is interesting to note that this dialogue is clearly still relevant. Whilst changes to the Facebook interface merely highlight activity that was already occurring before, it does question whether Facebook is intentionally leading users to become more and more relaxed within the ‘organizational complex’, and then shifting levels of privacy without proper consent from individuals.

-Tim Brooks

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: