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  • Dr. Kamila Moulaï

Surveillance precedes the e-sense

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

By Kamila Moulaï

People exist first, and then they define themselves based on reality and the world (Sartre 1996:29). The conception proposed by existentialism is that if human existence cannot be defined, the individual is not determined.

However, today, while people are constantly evolving in the context of surveillance, and while their relationship to this same world is mediated, it seems interesting to capture the existential shift that could occur through an image that raises a philosophical question.

The image represented is a meditation scene. It is also the ironic illustration of the insidious penetration in everyday life of Postmodern surveillance practices, where a technology-based tool targets the human object body (Staples 2013). Visually melted into the scenery, the camera is integrated into this intimate moment of encounter between oneself and introspective reality.

However, looking closer, the individual seems imperturbable as the camera is roughly set in the scene. Did they develop an ‘e-sense’? Nurtured by the human consciousness of being scrutinized constantly, this sense would be the product of a negotiation between oneself and the (inner)world where the individual is stuck in electronic surveillance. This could be the reason why the person’s eyes are only half-shut.

As the surveillance does not emanate from the will of the observed, it can only precede the e-sense, which is the product of the ‘reaction’ to it.

However, then you may say, if the debate has long questioned what the essence is, today, it is the conditions of the negotiation behind the e-sense that are at the heart of the philosophical stake.

This window is half-open for a deep reflection.

Kamila Moulaï, InstancitY, 2020.


Sartre, Jean-Paul 1996. L’existentialisme est un humanisme. Gallimard folio


Staples, W. G. 2013. Everyday surveillance: Vigilance and visibility in postmodern life.

Rowman & Littlefield.

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