How to Disappear Completely
February 14, 2011
Machine Project We Love Dumplings fundraiser
The proliferation of digital photographic technology has made the photobooth a ubiquitous feature of contemporary nightlife. While the form has existed for quite some time, it is well-suited to the present moment of hyper-documentation. Uploading images from events to social networking profiles has accelerated to posting them to real-time services like TwitPic. "Pics or it didn't happen" has become pics or it isn't happening. A photobooth is a chance to literally step into the picture, get your face seen, to make yourself there.
This photobooth uses camouflage to complicate this facetime economy. The subjects are there but also begin to disappear, lost in the endless depth of pattern. It is not a natural environment, so it is not a naturalistic camouflage. Instead, the ground is a network of dots, perfectly spaced, not a military pattern but a military formation, happily hallucinatory, a "way to infinity."
Dot costumes and coverings were provided as props. While none matched the background perfectly, it is the accretion of polka dot patterning that obliterates the subjects' forms. Often just their faces remain as figures against the chaotic, geometric ground. Sometimes (because little direction was given -- usually only the suggestion that "more is more"), the subjects didn't quite play along and manage to remain strongly defined. Either way, they become just more infinity, their image becomes one more bit of noise in the network of images.
It was also, and importantly, ridiculously great fun.