For their 2017 Christmas special, French and Saunders chose to channel Kim Kardashian and poke fun at her trend for using heavy contouring makeup used for her Instagram feed. French’s face was plastered with blotches of different unblended foundations, which spoof Kardashian’s contoured face makeup. (French and Saunders mimic the Kardashians in new spoof 2017). In the video below, French explains that she doesn’t need to blend the colours as she will be airbrushed in the final version of the show.
Figures 1 and 2: (French and Saunders mimic the Kardashians in new spoof 2017)
Video 1: (BBC Two 2017)
I will be creating several responses to this comedy sketch as part of my work.
French and Saunders mimic the Kardashians in new spoof. 2017. Mail Online [online]. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5202709/French-Saunders-mimic-Kardashians-new-spoof.html [accessed 31 March 2018].
Figures 1 and 2: French and Saunders mimic the Kardashians in new spoof. 2017. Mail Online [online]. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5202709/French-Saunders-mimic-Kardashians-new-spoof.html [accessed 31 March 2018].
Video 1: BBC Two. 2017. Facebook.com [online]. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/bbctwo/videos/10155137666831778/ [accessed 31 March 2018].
To further my understanding of the challenges of distance learning and the impact on our online identities, I created a survey. The questions are given below.
The link has been placed in the Canvas application for Falmouth University so that students from all flexible courses can access it. It has also been placed in the WhatsApp and Facebook groups. The results will be analysed in a later post.
Again there is no conclusive result about our identities changing to meet the needs of others, there is some indication that some people are affected by content on Instagram. This does give me some insights into the online identity issue – more research will be required that is age and gender specific to see if online identity changes are related to these factors.
The results of this survey are somewhat meaningless in that no demographic data has been collected, and the survey was not specific to one platform (that is why the Instagram only survey was launched). Whilst there is no conclusive result about our identities changing to meet the needs of others, it does give me some insights into the online identity issue – more research will be required.
“‘Unmasking’ is something that happens to spies and those with guilty secrets. Masking, masquerade, is disguise – and by extension perhaps even deception or pretence. The reference is to the altered appearance of the masker rather than to the status of the portrayal. Yet, as the examples of burglars and terrorists suggest, the wearing of a mask, while it may act to drain the masker of personal identity, is not inert even where it is intended only as a concealment. Of itself, a stocking mask asserts no other identity, yet the altered appearance of the wearer achieves menace whether or not the viewer feels personally threatened. In more playful context the staring, immobile masked face of even a close friend in party costume has a startling effect. The term ‘mask’ implicitly acknowledges human agency, that which is masked or concealed; but the resulting masquerade has a presence even if everyone is well aware that masking is, after all, only someone dressing up.”
For this shoot, I decided to start with colour correction makeup and then move into the fully contoured effect.
The colour correction makeup was applied thickly so it would photograph well. In reality, the makeup would be applied lighter than this. I also wanted the colours to be boldly placed on my skin, not necessarily in the right places.
During the process, I felt as though I was going to take part in some sort of warrior ritual! The amount of product on my face at the end of the session was amazing. The product was thickly covering my face.
The layers that were placed on the face were:-
colour correcting makeup
face paint to darken contours
My eyes were made up with false lashes and an over-exaggerated eyeliner. I also used glue dots to position the eyebrows I made on the laser cutter.
The lips were coated in a gloss lip colour (which felt sticky and unpleasant). Each stage was photographed so that I could evaluate each stage for inclusion in the project.
The makeup looked much darker in person than it does in the images. This meant that more and more product needed to be applied in order for the effect to be seen in the finished images.
After the main makeup had been completed, I tied a piece of clear elastic around my face to emulate the work of Gareth Pugh (previous post). In the previous post, makeup artist Garland commented that the “look is (painfully) gorgeous”. I can totally agree with that. Placing the elastic in place is tricky as it is easy to disturb the makeup already on the face. For the effect to work well, the elastic needs to be really tight – I used a hair clip at the back of my head to pull it even tighter (and more painful). The effect was totally worth the pain though.
After the shoot, the makeup was removed. At this point, my skin decided that even the gentlest of cleaning products (hypoallergenic) was too much and reacted by being very sore and red. I also developed a severe reaction underneath my mouth to the purple colour concealer and have ended up with a steroid cream from the doctors.
Overall, the shoot was successful, with the intermediate images where the colour concealer and contouring makeup is still in lines are the most intriguing and effective.
THOMPSON, RACHEL. 2016. “Designer creates extreme cheekbone contouring using stretched elastic”. Mashable [online]. Available at: https://mashable.com/2016/02/21/horror-show-contouring/#XqL4tC_OBuqT [accessed 10 March 2018].
“Lake’s social consciousness is rooted in her predisposition to be curious and to pose questions in order to open up an examination of the power dynamics at play within an individual and between the individual and society.”
– (Lake et al. 2017: 9)
Throughout the MA, I have been interested in the performance that we put on for the camera. We do not show who we are and we play the part of who we think we should be. That statement is indeed true for me. While researching for my final project, I came across the work of Suzy Lake.
I identify strongly with her work and especially with the strong narrative that tells of our struggle between true identity and the roles that we play in society. She uses makeup and role-playing as a mask to hide behind. These metaphorical masks allow her to conceal who she is and without them to reveal who she is. Her storyboard format strengthens the narrative, drawing the viewer into the story.
In figures 1 and 2, Lake’s use of the white makeup to cover her face gives a blank canvas before she applies makeup to make the character she is going to play. This mask hides who she really is.
Suzy Lake was one of the first female artists to use photography, performance, and video to explore issues of identity. Her work is often compared to that of Cindy Sherman. However, it is not mentioned that Sherman was heavily influenced by Lake. In figures 3 and 4 that influence can be seen. Sherman’s gridded 1975 image ‘Untitled #479′ (figure 4) was clearly influenced by Lake’s gridded 1973-1974 image ‘A Genuine Simulation of…’.
Both of these pieces of work use self-portraits to tell a narrative of the transformation of the individual from the unmade-up face to a face covered with excessive makeup. Both narratives are concerned with our obsession with beauty and appearance.
Lake’s work has almost been overshadowed by the work of the more famous Sherman. It was almost impossible to find a copy of ‘A Genuine Simulation of…’ anywhere on the internet. Instead, I have included a photograph of the plate presented in the book of her work ‘Suzy Lake’. I find Lake’s work more subtle and less dark than Sherman’s.
Lake’s ‘A Genuine Simulation of…’ consists of 90 photographs in a series, presented as a grid of 10 images across and 9 rows of images. Each image is subtly different to the one before it. Lake applied more and more makeup for each image. Lake is playing herself but also playing no-one in particular. This is where the strength of the images lie. In some images, she is almost clown-like, and in others she is glamorous.
Of all the images I have considered in planning my project, this is one of the most influential. Questioning the role that makeup plays in our lives online and in person, is intriguing to me. Do we need to wear makeup to be accepted? Am I considered differently because I do not wear makeup? But there is more to this work and my interest than that. The use of makeup to transform appearance leads to questions about the truth and authenticity of a photograph. Lake’s images depict a woman who through the use of makeup is not the actual women. It is a representation of women, but not one woman in particular. She further emphasises this with the unfinished title. Who is the work a genuine simulation of? We are not answered, so as viewers we can relate to the images in terms of our personal understanding and experience.
Also, there are contradictions in the title. Genuine and simulation have opposite meanings. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the meanings of the words are:
Genuine – “Truly what something is said to be; authentic.” – (genuine | Definition of genuine in English by Oxford Dictionaries 2018)
Simulation – “The action of pretending; deception.” – (simulation | Definition of simulation in English by Oxford Dictionaries 2018)
Lake is leading the viewer to question whether or not there is an authentic image of herself in the work. We also question whether or not any photograph that we see can be considered a genuine representation of the person or scene. Or are all photographs simulations?
Figures 5 and 6 show more of Lake’s transformations. Some are through the use of props, and in others, she alters the photograph with a pen after the event.
Lake’s work also offers me guidance on the scale of the work that could I could present. This is something that I need to consider when planning my exhibition.
As much as I hate the idea, her work supports my current thinking that to explore the issues I would like to, my project is turning into a self-portrait project. The project is not about me: it is about nobody and everybody, I just happen to be the model.
“I don’t try to say what my identity is. I’m not some heroine recounting my life. I needed a constant, a vulnerable subject for a reference point. The reason I use myself as a model is because I’m always on hand, always around.”
– Lake (Lake et al. 2017: 170)
genuine | Definition of genuine in English by Oxford Dictionaries. 2018. Oxford Dictionaries | English [online]. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/genuine [accessed 1 March 2018].
Lake, S., Anderson, S., Uhlyarik, G., and Reckitt, H. 2017. Suzy Lake. Göttingen, Germany: Steidl.
simulation | Definition of simulation in English by Oxford Dictionaries. 2018. Oxford Dictionaries | English [online]. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/simulation [accessed 1 March 2018].
Suzy Lake – Suzy Lake. 2018. Suzy Lake [online]. Available at: http://www.suzylake.ca/ [accessed 1 March 2018].
Figures 1 and 5: Suzy Lake – White Face. 2018. Suzy Lake [online]. Available at: http://www.suzylake.ca/whiteface#1 [accessed 1 March 2018].
Figures 2 and 3: Lake, S., Anderson, S., Uhlyarik, G., and Reckitt, H. 2017. Suzy Lake. Göttingen, Germany: Steidl.
Figure 4: Suzy Lake vs. Cindy Sherman: Americanism and the Forgotten Canadian Feminist Art of the ’70s. 2018. Sites.utm.utoronto.ca [online]. Available at: http://sites.utm.utoronto.ca/historyinternships/blog/11282016-0157/suzy-lake-vs-cindy-sherman-americanism-and-feminist-art-70s [accessed 1 March 2018].
Figures 6 and 7: Suzy Lake – Transformations. 2018. Suzy Lake [online]. Available at: http://www.suzylake.ca/transformations#1 [accessed 1 March 2018].
Like Sophie Calle, I am interested in the boundary between our private self and our public identity. In her work “Calle has blurred the boundaries between private and public, between photographer and photographed, and between viewer and participant.” – (Edwards 2014: Abstract)
Calle has considered and investigated patterns of behaviour by playing the part of a private investigator amongst others. She has also looked at her own behaviour. She has used her experiences of her life, both as she has lived it and as she has imagined it, to inform her work. Her work merges fiction, fantasy, performance, and documentary. The viewer is unsure if the work is meant to be voyeuristic or theatrical in nature.
Her work ‘The Birthday Ceremony’ shows us how we construct our identity around rituals that we hide from others. These include forms of self-indulgence and self-denial. We surround ourselves with objects that have meaning. We carry out activities that give substance to our private and public identities.
The resultant works are Calle’s way of holding up her mirror to show us human behaviour. We test that behaviour obsessively with public rituals that we construct and follow to mask who we are from others. With the ever-increasing emphasis on our online personas, our lives become more and more public on social media. The boundary between our private selves and our public identities becomes ever more blurred and difficult to distinguish as we traverse further into the virtual world.
EDWARDS, NATALIE. 2014. “Accumulation and Archives: Sophie Calle’s Prenez soin de vous”. In Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature, 38(2).
HAGAN, SEAN. 2017. “Strangers, secrets and desire: the surreal world of Sophie Calle”. the Guardian [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/mar/04/strangers-secrets-and-desire-the-surreal-world-of-sophie-calle [accessed 1 March 2018].
Figure 1: BARBIERI, CLAUDIA. 2012. “Sophie Calle: Tapes, Diaries, and Burial Plots”. Nytimes.com[online]. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/13/arts/13iht-rartcalle13.html [accessed 1 March 2018].
Figure 2: Sophie Calle — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes. 2018. AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes [online]. Available at: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/sophie-calle/ [accessed 1 March 2018].
In January, I was asked by Saal Digital to take part in a photo booklet product test. For transparency, the photobook was provided to my specification and design, but I am not being paid to promote the company. I was given a voucher to cover most of the cost of the booklet and I paid the balance of the booklet I ordered.
Firstly, I downloaded their Design Software and was able to quickly and easily choose options to suit my Behind the Mask project. There is a diverse range of design options, quality of print mediums, and templates available to use. The design process is very intuitive and took less than 30 minutes to complete the whole booklet.
To test the quality that Saal could provide, the specification I chose to order was:
Photo Booklet Format: 20cm x 20cm
Surface: art print
Cover: without barcode
Delivery was fast. It took just over a week from ordering to delivery. This is quite impressive considering it has come from Germany.
So my first impressions were good. The book was delivered well protected in the packaging.
The booklet has an outer plastic cover which helps to protect it from damage and adds to the overall appearance of the booklet. The art print pages I chose are thick and textured, adding a quality feel to the booklet.
Images from the booklet:
Overall, I was blown away by the quality and service offered by Saal Digital. In comparison to other photo booklets I have previously ordered, the price and quality of Saal Digital products is exceptional. I will certainly be using Saal Digital for my next project and am also looking forward to purchasing some of the other products that they offer.
Find this photo booklet and other products for sale at saal-digital.co.uk
@SaalDigitaluk @saaldigital_uk #saaldigitaluk