Exhibition charts course from philosophy to Big Brother in a 24/7 world
The Somerset House show will examine ‘the feeling of overwhelmingness that we get in this digital age’.
An exhibition at Somerset House will chart a journey from the social philosophy of Jeremy Bentham to the reality TV of Big Brother.
24/7: A Wake-Up For Our Non-Stop World features more than 50 works exploring how modern life pushes the limits of our natural rhythms of sleep and waking.
Visitors will be able to sit in the original Big Brother chair from series one of the pioneering show, the first to be broadcast 24/7.
The chair will be accompanied by illustrations of Bentham’s panopticon, a style of architecture that allows control over a building’s residents, to show the link between his theories and the social experiment of Big Brother.
Another work, Tatsuo Miyajima’s Life Palace, allows visitors to enter a meditative isolation chamber, described as a tea room, to bathe in the blue glow of LED countdowns.
And a documentary will show how artist Nastja Sade Ronkko has lived as an artistic resident of Somerset House without internet for six months.
Ronkko did not use ATM machines, only read newspapers and used hand-written letters delivered by the postal service to communicate with friends and family.
Curator Sarah Cook told the PA new agency the exhibition examines “the feeling of overwhelmingness that we get in this digital age”.
She added that it positions artists as “interpreters of that world”.
She said: “The exhibition brings together some historic objects as well as the contemporary art to tell the story of where the 24/7 world came from.
“And so we have drawings from Jeremy Bentham, borrowed from the University College London, about the panopticon, which was the first all-seeing.
“Bentham’s ideas about the panopticon really influenced Big Brother.
“It made sense to also include a visual reference and a reminder of just what the first season of Big Brother was like.”
As visitors pass through the exhibition they will experience a simulated day ending at sunset, where they will encounter the final work in which they will hum along to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with people from around the world.
24/7: A Wake-Up For Our Non-Stop World is at Somerset House, London, from October 31.