Unravelling America’s Post-Truth Condition

In Wilderness of Mirrors, Chase Barnes looks to classify the circumstances that have enabled dominant power structures to destabilise our perception of reality through the subtle application of everyday technologies and visual devices.

Wilderness of Mirrors is an ongoing survey tracking the rapid development of the American Post-Truth condition. This project endeavours to make visible a process of destabilisation by which technology, anxiety, and image become exploitable resources in the construction of a vast illusory landscape, beneath which dominant power structures are reinforced and advanced.

The sequence guides viewers through a veritable wilderness - a landscape of images and devices which infinitely deflect, replicate, and distort any information within its borders. The architecture of this wilderness sustains and conceals a predominantly white, male hegemony. The sequence aspires to make visible these invisible mechanisms, 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 here and now, producing endless trails of algorithmically sortable data and fuelling a hyper-partisan fever, all against the ominous backdrop of domestic mass surveillance and psychographic advertising. As the internet is quickly transforming from what was once the most democratic of commons to ground zero for the re-consolidation of power, images have become the irreducible unit of cultural production, and as a result the primary means of modulating our agency.

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.

Wilderness of Mirrors is an attempt to identify the vertices of simulation, power, and concealment so that the viewer might disentangle the mesh of their personal, political and digital selves – questioning assumption and re-framing our relationships to images and the digital landscape before they are completely determined for us.

Words and Pictures by .


Chase Barnes is a film-based photographer and video artist based in Philadelphia, United States. He received a BFA from the University of Missouri in 2016 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2018. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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