Tools for Modern Times

When this self portrait was photographed back in 2009 my idea was to consider the implications of private and public persona. Over the past couple of years I have reprocessed the photo several times based upon my original idea. With each new version it has become apparent that the image makes some people uncomfortable.

There are many reasons why someone wrapped in a headscarf might be considered provocative. The face of the subject, me in this case, is obscured. It is a headshot which eliminates any body language to help the viewer read the image. later versions of the image are composited which adds layers of information to further obfuscate the subject.

I believe there is another reason why my self portrait makes people uncomfortable. It is a more sinister reason. For more than twenty years we as free citizens of the United States have been taught to fear those among us who speak with a different accent, dress in a different way or hold unfamiliar beliefs. Xenophobic attitudes now mainstream in our society.

Every day we are reminded to fear and judge people we don’t know because they hold certain religious beliefs. Politicians shamelessly use fear of ‘the potential threat’ to attain office. News outlets shamelessly echo those politicians without asking meaningful questions. Incidents that are thought of as terrorism are endlessly replayed twenty four hours a day for commercial gain. We are warned on a daily basis to hold our fear close.

The bargain we are making is freedom in exchange for security. The case could be made that we are trading those things that make our country great for the warm blanket of a comfortable police state. In our society informers are not even necessary, we inform upon ourselves. Every electronic utterance and transaction is subject to examination without our direct consent by machine intelligence. Senator Joseph McCarthy was once asked; “Have you no sense of decency sir?” Who in the government and security apparatus would we ask that of today?

Ken

Author: Ken

Avid photographer and old guy technologist.