Airports Observe Museums

May 2, 2012

The museum institution, in a reversal of the Panopticon, which allows a small or non-existent number of wardens to oversee a large number of inmates; allows a large number of people to view, in great detail, a small number of exquisite objects. Airports and airlines are institutions which offer the promise not of being able to see small objects, but actually to immerse oneself into a totally different environment. The museum originally fought the idea that the public would be able to enter a museum, labeling the public as an unruly and drunken class (an assessment later proven unfair) which would risk the preservation of the collection. Today, alcohol is provided on most flights free of charge, the comfort of the public during their transportation becomes the main selling point of a carrier since the attraction is their destination. The institution of the airport is notorious for overcharging for alcohol, and for becoming all intrusive in its quest for security, it is a necessary step towards a destination, and the monopoly offered by this bottleneck affords it the ability to be as authoritarian as it deems necessary. While airlines offer the public the opportunity to subdivide themselves by class, as the great exhibition did in 1851, airports reduce all to an equal level of suspicion under an unseen but ever perceived authority.

Michael Lyon

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