Friday 10 August 2018


How do we see ourselves in the eyes of others? From our pictures posted on social media, to expectations about how others will judge or understand us, we constantly learn about ourselves through the effects we have on our surroundings.

This is the topic explored at a unique public engagement event at the new Blavatnik building at Tate Modern, 24–25 March.

Called Self-impressions: a Tate Exchange event, it was organised by the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and is part of a of a new Centre for Aesthetics, Technology and Engineering (CREATE) initiative.

Through a unique series of hands-on activities, philosophers and neuroscientists combined art and science to explore what the images we choose to produce, and share reveal about who we are.

As Professor Ophelia Deroy, the event’s lead organiser, explained: ‘Everyone insists on art being a medium for self-expression where we reveal and realise ourselves. But producing an image, a gesture, a statement is not for expression only. We want to make an impression on others and change ourselves in return. Tate Modern is a fantastic place to explore this topic, and showing to a wide audience how we constantly experiment with our own image.’

During the two days, from 12 noon to 6pm, visitors to Self-impressions were introduced to fascinating areas of research around self-image and self-expression. Cognitive scientists and researchers from London, partnered with LMU, Munich, shared what was going on in their laboratories, allowing guests to discover more about their sense of self, and how it is constantly being modelled by sensory and social factors (see video below).

  • Seeing the world through the eyes of a hammerhead shark with the help of meta-perceptual helmets
  • Illusions that show how the brain creates representation of our bodies
  • Understanding how much goes into self-portraits and selfies
  • Discovering how you manage to communicate inner experiences, like the smell of a perfume
  • Seeing how good your self-knowledge is


  • The Institute of Philosophy
  • The CUBE team at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council Science in Culture Theme
  • Body and Image in Arts and Sciences project at the Warburg Institute
  • The Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London
  • KatLab at University College London
  • The School of Looking and Patrick Cavanagh

For further information, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8653 /