The Panopticon in the French prison of Auntun

The Panopticon is an idea envisioned by Jeremy Bentham in 1791 and consists of what should be the “ideal prison”. For the controllers, at least.

The design concept is to allow a single supervisor to observe (opticon) all (pan) the subjects of a prison institution without allowing them to understand whether they are currently being monitored.


The Panopticon has an almost cult significance by now. It has spanned generations and influenced numerous thinkers and philosophers, such as George Orwell’s 1984 novel. The reference is something capable of observing everything (or everyone) at any time.

There are not very many, but, from its origin, this concept has found some realizations; one of these is the French prison in Auntun. A prison built in 1856 – of which the photographer Romain Veillon captured these fascinating shots.

Photo Copyright: Romain Veillon – – @romain_veillon

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