Publication Details

O'Donnell, M. "Something smart going on: the apocalyptic aesthetics of surveillance." From Dataveillance to Uberveillance and the Realpolitik of the Transparent Society (Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security 2007). Ed. K. Michael & M. G. Michael. Wollongong, NSW: IP Location-Based Services Research Program and the Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention, UOW, 2007. 181-200.


This paper analyses surveillance as an integral element in contemporary discourses of the apocalyptic. It outlines a model of the apocalyptic that has its roots in the western religious tradition particularly the last book of the Christian bible: The Book of Revelation. It explores the intersecting narratives of surveillance, the apocalyptic and the forensic as a way of contextualising contemporary political, pop cultural and technological events. Each of these narratives play themselves out through a dialectical logic: surveillance is seen as bringing both intrusion and protection; the apocalypse is harbinger of both destruction and a new world; while the forensic revels in both discovery and horror. Each of these narratives is related to a search for meaning and authenticity and each is expressed through a broad range of multimodal contemporary mythic structures in news, film, television and politics.