By Chase Barnes
Wilderness of Mirrors is a photographic survey of an emerging cybernetic landscape. The series endeavours to visualise current mechanisms of surveillance and control that employ technology, anxiety, and images as a means to destabilise and restructure belief. These discrete social and technological systems are embedded into the fabric of everyday life, and serve to reinforce and advance dominant structures of capital and power.
The sequence presents these conditions as a veritable wilderness - a landscape of images and devices that infinitely deflects, replicates, and distorts any information within its borders. The architecture of this wilderness sustains and conceals among many things a predominantly white, male hegemony. The sequence aspires to visualise a mechanism which hides in plain sight, and to this end it is populated entirely by white male figures.
The integration of various technologies into all facets of contemporary life has rendered us stateless, both totally surrounded and utterly alone. Our devices pull us away from the here and now, producing endless trails of algorithmically sortable data and fueling a hyper-partisan fever, all against the ominous backdrop of domestic mass-surveillance and psychographic advertising.
We make and consume pictures in the ways we were taught, a ritualised vision we adopt without question. By utilising a plurality of photographic languages and methods – ranging from formal scenes composed with a 4x5 view camera, to black and white reportage shot with harsh on-camera flash reminiscent of crime scene photography – this project positions technological sight as a means which serves and conceals an oppressive social architecture.
Ultimately Wilderness of Mirrors aspires to locate the intersections of simulation, power, and concealment in order to disentangle the mesh of our personal, political and digital selves; it describes an urgent need to reclaim the agency we have traded away for convenience. The work seeks to question default realities and reframe our relationship to this digital landscape before it is completely determined for us.