Thursday, June 24, 2010

The x-ray scanning machine at the Metro Stations

The x-ray scanning machine is installed at every metro station now. What is fascinating about them is the quixotic character of the machine. It is a machine that can look through. It can look inside without going there. The machine has exceptional powers.
This is how its experience unfolds amongst us. Just after the body is frisked by the security guard, it is mandatory for the commuter to feed his/her belongings into the machine. There usually are a few more guards reinforcing this compliance. Then the X-ray machine meets the eye of the commuter in a sort of existential way. There is no facade here, the machine stands out, and it looks like nothing else but a hollow cubical main body and its transit ramps on its front and rare end. The entrance to the machine’s main cubical is curtained and thus all that meets the eye there is a darkness as its paraphernalia confirms there is more to it than just that. The commuter figures out instantly where to put the Bag in from and from where will it re-emerge.
Accompanying this is the machine's prosthetic extension. The security guard sits there as the machine translates the x-rays into coded images. The machine shows the guard images of what’s inside. X-Ray Machine doubts the commuter’s extension- his Bag and differentiates between the good and the possible evil using different colors. The materiality of the objects inside the Bag remains the same as before, it is only their representation that changes. The bag is now a source of information and this information is censored from the commuter's eye. This is the privilege that the guard has over the commuter. This rightful access into the commuter’s belongings seen in X-ray light thus creates a spatial discontinuity. The one who can see and is embodied with a gaze the one who cannot. This is a significant debate because the commuter never called for it. The controlled X-ray radiations, in order to be useful become the X-ray scanner. This technology that sees beyond the surface reinvents itself in a particular moment, in the age of fear.
Thus contextualized technology-the X-ray Scanner only needs users now. One who would become the embodiment of the gaze himself and the other upon whom he would rest the gaze and flaunt his extraordinary might. But here the X-ray radiations deceive unexpectedly as it has already been found that one cannot subject human beings to unnecessary radiations and thus they cannot be used directly onto them. Now how will the gaze scan them? How will they consume the machine as a sign of the power of the embodied gaze that can see beyond?
The discourse of The Bag is brilliantly reinvented here, as it is chosen to be the prosthetic embodiment of the subject. The Bag becomes the carrier not only of the objects that reflect the identity of its commuter and also of his intent (considering the times in which the machine reinvents itself). This deficit, of not being able to use the subject directly has probably been the fuel for the development full body scanners. Full body scanners could embody an even mightier gaze.
The x-ray scanner along with its paraphernalia thus holds the power of making the commuter the subject of an observation. The machine, the guard and the commuter now form a closed system. Their mutual relationships shape their identity. The commuter is invariably mediated into the new identity of the one(like all others) who needs to be seen and not voluntarily but through his compulsory use of the machine.
By the end of it the X-ray scanner is a transforming experience for the commuter. He is now deemed safe because his bag has been sanitized using the uncompromising scientific technology by the authorities. He is also stripped off all cultural specifics and reduced to a neutralising nomenclature-‘Safe’ in the process. It is now that he is considered apt for consuming the Metro and transform from now to modernity. The surveillance and security mechanism has an undesired neutralising effect on its subjects. Like in the case of the X-ray machine the user has hardly anything to say. As has been presented here that the meaning of the experience of X-ray scanner is imposed upon the commuter. Its discourse only exposes the parasitic nature of the gaze that resides its power in the commuter and the feeds on it, and the commuter can only wait in anticipation while his bag is being scanned.

1 comment:

  1. think its an unnecessary politisazations of simple things. some members of the intellegensia are out to make money form terror. why was this not written when medical x ray machines were first installed...does it not also do the same?