In working with children from the mid-90s on, it was impossible to avoid the iconography of the mask. Masks appeared from the start, often made from the basest materials (like the paper plate scrawled with pen in Ben with Mask, 1997). Later, children adopted more sophisticated disguises (The Zombie, 2013). The mask continued to appear in camera on a regular basis over the next decade.
As I photographed in schools, in homes and at drama workshops, children would habitually adopted masks as effective ways to quickly transport themselves into the imaginative space of other (not necessarily human) characters. In Robot Workshop (i-iv) 2010, hastily assembled boxes and cardboard tubes were brought together to conjure up the automaton and promote the dramatic personae encouraged by the simple act of placing the mask over the face. Masks also featured prominently in the AI project, where roboticists would use interchangeable masks to confer anthopomimetic features on their humanoid projects.
In Natural Disaster (2014), I photographed a new mask that I had seen recently in schools. This mask was made from the most traditional of materials (the cardboard box) but its iconography was derived solely from a digital game. This mask was not based on an animal, ghost or spirit but on a pixelated character – a kind of digital phantom transformed by the mask into physical form.
Natural Disaster (2014) and related images were shown as part of PORTRAITS FROM AN ISLAND curated by Anna Fox and Amit Sheokand for The Goa Photo Festival in February 2015.