Power of gaze

Up to now, I was stating that the gaze or the look gives pleasures and it gratifies libidinal desires in human being, especially the males. But the gaze also is a vehicle to exercise power; it gives power to the gazer. So, now, to gaze is to involve oneself in power politics.

To gaze is to have a powerful look, which can objectify the other person -- who is looked upon --, subject him/her to a curious stare, categorize, define and take control over him/her. The gazing activity, therefore, carries a sense of being objectified, subordinated, or threatened by the look of another (Brooker 90).

Foucault, who linked knowledge with power, related the gaze to discourse of power rather than to discourse of gender in his discussion of surveillance. Foucault focuses on how a “gaze” becomes a technique to utilize the power of looking into what is look at. He associates the “gaze” to the surveillance effect of a modern scientific camera.

It is interesting to see how power could be exercised upon the viewed through the gaze. Foucault’s panoptical prison is the best analogy where the prisoners are taken into control through a mechanism of looking/watching which enables the controller to see all the prisoners in their cell but disables the prisoners to see their observer while they are aware of the fact that someone is keeping a constant eye over them.

Functions of photography or vediography therefore can be seen in the context of Michel Foucault's analysis of the rise of surveillance in modern society. Photography promotes “the normalising gaze, a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify and to punish. It establishes over individuals a visibility through which one differentiates and judges them” (Malson 25).

In Discipline and Punish Foucault argues that the gaze of camera plays a central role in formation of disciplines among the viewed. In media, especially in the production commercials and advertisement camera plays the central role of gazing. This gaze of the camera thus produces the women's images in the perspective of male gaze. As Foucault stats the "examination" of the male gaze in the commercial advertisements plays central role in defining what is desired by the mass audience. The observation and examination of gaze:
introduces individuality into the field of documentation. The examination leaves behind it a whole meticulous archive . . . [it] places individuals in a field of surveillance, it engages them in a whole mass of documents that capture and fix them". (Malson 170)

This very observation, examination and categorization of the women's images through male gaze contribute to the formation of ideologies in the society because the mass media repeatedly broadcasts them.

The gaze of male in vediography and photography and of course in television advertisements thus retains a controlling power over the individual in focus or surveillance.

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