When we see the visual cortex 'lights-up' (orange regions)







at the Hayward Gallery


A site-specific installation that explores both light and colour perception 


as part of the Dan Flavin exhibition 


19th January 2006, Hayward Gallery, London



AfterImage is a site-specific installation produced by three leading UK scientists that provides a unique perspective on light and colour as part of the Dan Flavin: A Retrospective exhibition at the Hayward gallery.  Designed and curated by Dr Mark Lythgoe in collaboration with Dr Mark Miodownik and Dr Beau Lotto, this immersive space will examine the limits of human perception and our relationship with its discrepancy from reality. This dual display of what is seen and what courses beneath the surface brings us to the core substance of what we perceive in Flavin’s work. It aims to make visible the connections between the scientific and artistic explorations of light and colour, probing the thin membrane between the ‘reality’ and our ‘perception’ of the physical world.

Generation of light, the phenomenon of fluorescence and our relationship with colour will be the main themes of the exhibit. The theatre of Victorian electrostatics is resurrected with the world’s largest Wimshurst machine. Its salient motion draws striking sparks above a collection of images and stills that reflect the historical significance of the science behind Flavin’s work. Contained within darkened walls are optically active objects that induce transformation in light, and glow with an eerie disembodied quality that only florescent material can provide. We use these objects as a vocabulary to deconstruct fluorescence and expose it's animal, mineral and vegetable nature. Finally, context is everything when it comes to what we see. Here, amidst Dan Flavin’s sculptures of light and colour, we discover that the relationship between the external world of light and our internal world of colour are far from simple and by exploring this complex relationship we can begin to understand how and why we see what we do.

    The AfterImage guide and notes - PDF download   
  Parts of the brain used in recognising familiar faces  

Co-ordinated and produced by Dr Mark Lythgoe.

Wimshurst project was conceived by Dr Mark Lythgoe and Jack Wells, Radiology and Physics Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, UCL. 

Timeline projection - Jack Wells and Mark Lythgoe - PDF download

Colour space was designed by Dr Beau Lotto, The Lottolab, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL.

Materials have been curated by Dr Mark Miodownik and Zoe Laughlin, Materials Group, Engineering Division, Kings College London. 

Wimshurst machine was built by Machinehouse. With thanks to Screenhouse Productions and YAP Films. For more information visit .


Mailto  Dr. Mark Lythgoe   Dr. Mark Lythgoe
RCS Unit of Biophysics
Institute of Child Health
University College London
30 Guilford Street
London WC1N 1EH
science & art:


Dr. Mark A. Miodownik

University Lecturer

Mechanical Engineering Department

Kings College London

Strand, London


web page:


Dr. R. Beau Lotto

University College London

11-43 Bath Street

London EC1V 9EL


Jack Wells
RCS Unit of Biophysics
Institute of Child Health
University College London
30 Guilford Street
London WC1N 1EH

  Zoe Laughlin
Materials Group
Division of Engineering
King’s College London
The Strand, London, WC2R 2LS








    Mark Lythgoe: Biography