Marcus Lyall: Portrait of Jeremy Bentham

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 Jeremy Bentham's preserved head on a mount
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?

Please note the dates for this display have changed from those previously advertised and will now run from 17 January - 11 February 2019. 

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