Painted views from the Panopticon

William Betts‘s intriguing paintings View from the Panopticon will be exhibited April 13 – May 25, 2007 at the Richard Levy Gallery, in Albuquerque (New Mexico.)


The series of the paintings is inspired of course by the current rise in surveillance practice. They also make a step back in time by referring to Michel Foucault‘s essay Discipline & Punish and to the Panopticon, a proposal for a circular prison with an unseen guard watching from a center tower, designed by late XVIIIth century philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

What makes his work unique is not the content but the technique. Betts’ paintings both reinvigorates the traditional art discipline and draws on his mastering of software technology.

0panoptioijiijij.jpgThe artist used advanced computer controlled linear motion technology and a custom-designed software system to apply thousands of drips of paint with robot like precision. The individual drips of high gloss acrylic paint catch the light and give each drip its own dimensionality and further mimic video. In addition, Betts developed a color palette based on RGB additive component video to create ‘black and white’ images using only colored paint. A typical painting has between 30,000 and 40,000 individually applied drips of paint.

Using and adjusting staged and found surveillance images as the source for his work, Betts’ works invite the viewer to draw on their own experiences, imagination, and anxieties to provide the interpretation.

Via re-title.
See also: Miltos ManetasInternet paintings, When art & tv meet and Cati Vaucelle’s exploration into pixelated and re-composed visual art works.