Disease / Control




Journal Title

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Volume Title


ReMarx Books


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



This visual essay will appropriate the style of Marxist art historian John Berger’s seminal Ways of Seeing (1972), which inverts the traditionally hierarchical relationship between text and image to construct an image driven argument which is radically reader centered and open. Whilst Berger’s essay critiques the interrelations of art, capitalism, and hegemonic Western ideology, ours seeks to bring the current COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ into alignment with similar historical ‘lockdowns’ in a dialectical image of disciplinary society and disciplinary techniques. As Foucault (1977) has recognised, the transition between the exclusion of the leper colony and the tightly monitored plague village marked a transition in disciplinary logic; from the dream of a society purified by purging all deviance, to that of a perfectly ordered society where each individual in monitored, isolated, self-regulating, and in their proper place. Following Foucault, Deleuze (1992) argued that these disciplinary societies, driven by institutional power, had mutated into anarchic and decentered ‘societies of control’. Here, the diffusion of power throughout society has created a ‘generalised crisis’ beyond the control of singlular institutions or governments. Yuk Hui (2015) has recently demonstrated the hyper-acceleration of this process following the introduction of new media technologies and new forms of disciplinary ‘modulation’. Our visual essay seeks to map these mutations visually and textually, using quotes from the authors above in juxtaposition with original analysis and found images from the digital commons. The essay constitutes an eleven page sequence. It aims to demonstrate the futility of the Conservative government’s attempt to perform power through the spectacle of lockdown, as Foucault’s dream of a perfectly ordered society (1977: 198) slips through their fingers in a generalised crisis of mismanagement.



pandemic, panopticism, discipline, deleuze, Foucault


Hudson-Miles, R., Broadey, A., and de Rosen, F. (2020) Disease / Control. In: Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism: A Rethinking Marxism Dossier, Brighton, Mass.: ReMarx Books, pp. 224-236


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design