Project info

un·mask: (v) expose the true character of or hidden truth about

This project is a photographic exploration of the psychological spaces that many of us sometimes inhabit, from calm to unsettled, exacerbated by the increasingly complicated world we must grapple with. It is motivated by my experience as someone who succumbed to and recovered from this distress.

Because we are hardwired to read emotions on the human face, the work features a series of deconstructed portraits, allowing an intermingling of emotion and intellection. The subjects in the photographs are contacted via social media or through acquaintances, and invited to collaborate on the project. The resulting images are created by working blind in a completely dark studio. While the subjects re-imagine emotional periods from their lives, light is poured by hand, as if using a paint brush, to illuminate and paint them. Each image is made as a single exposure, often over 20 minutes long, combining evolving emotional states into a single moment, suggesting a metaphor for how we transform psychologically over time. This process enables chance to play a role in the collusion of darkness and light to unmask our internal states onto the subjects’ likenesses. Only afterwards can we see where the process led, often resulting in the discovery of unanticipated images.

In modern society, we have access to greater information and more options to choose from than in past eras. While there are advantages to this, it forces each of us to digest more complex ideas and interact with more complicated systems and networks. This complexity is likely to grow exponentially in the near future, catalyzed by technology and information. While some people are adept at dealing with this, ever greater numbers are struggling. We can see the partial impact of this with greater incidences of mental anguish and the increased need for daily pharmaceutical support to cope. Through this work, I hope to raise questions and enhance mindfulness about the choices we make that increase the complexity of our lives.