Betts’ latest paintings address a contemporary world in which surveillance is widely used as both a deterrent and for social control. Inspired by the writings of Jeremy Bentham on the Panopticon and Michel Foucault in his work Discipline & Punish, he explores the sociological and philosophical implications of surveillance in contemporary society. Using staged and found surveillance images as source material, the artist adjusts both the quality and content of the image to find the ideal balance of recognition and ambiguity allowing the viewer to draw on their own experiences, imagination, and anxieties to provide the interpretation. With few visual clues other than the specifics offered by a time stamp, the work uses a unique perspective and presents isolation and anonymity as its subject to draw the viewer into a vague and questioning environment.
William Betts describes his process as follows:
"Having spent several years working professionally in the software business, I draw on a deep understanding of technology to develop new techniques of making paintings that reinvigorate the traditional craft and allow me to create paintings that could not be made until very recently. For this series of paintings based on video surveillance images, I used advanced computer controlled linear motion technology and a proprietary software system of my design to precisely apply thousands of drips of paint. The individual drips of high gloss acrylic paint catch the light and give each drip its own dimensionality and further mimic video. I 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."