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Marcus Lyall: Portrait of Jeremy Bentham

Exhibition
 | 
17th Jan 2019  -  11th Feb 2019
09:00  - 19:00
South Cloisters, UCL Wilkins Building
Free. Open daily 09:00 - 19:00

'…the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power' - Foucault, Discipline and Punish

Colour photo of a digital portrait of Jeremy Bentham's head, projected in a wooden box
Come face-to-face with the illusion of a living Jeremy Bentham: philosopher, social reformer and inventor of the Panopticon.


Created by artist Marcus Lyall, the work is a companion to Bentham's famous auto-icon – comprising his skeleton, wax head and clothes – on display at UCL.

In his final years, Jeremy Bentham is said to have carried a pair of glass eyes in his pocket, so that his head could be preserved with a lifelike stare. This digital portrait uses 3D scans of Bentham’s real head and a camera that tracks your movements, so he seems to follow you around the room. This ’trompe l’oeil’ illusion creates an active, inverted  relationship between a viewer and the portrait. Like the horror movie trope, the portrait is looking at you.

Like a prisoner in Bentham's Panopticon does being observed change the way you behave under his gaze?

Photo courtesy of Marcus Lyall.

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