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robertogreco : masks   9

How masks explain the psychology behind online haras...
"Every human culture has used masks for ritual disinhibition, shaming and play. Is being online the ultimate masquerade?"



"Everywhere there are masks, we find this pattern of transgression. In medieval Venice, where masks were common fashion accessories, various laws testify to their anarchic tendencies. Masks were subject to a curfew, and could not be worn after dark. Mask-wearers were prohibited from carrying weapons or entering a church, and men were forbidden to wear masks in a convent. A law from 1268 forbids the apparently common practice of putting on a mask and throwing eggs full of rose water at ladies.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the fashion for mask-wearing spread to women all over Europe. Typically made of silk and velvet, these masks were first popularised as a means of protecting one’s complexion from the sun – and one’s modesty from the gaze of impertinent men. But women soon realised that masks also protected one’s identity, and began to wear them when they were up to no good. Sometimes, that just meant attending the theatre – frowned upon because of the indecency of the performances, and the audience. But a mask also allowed a lady to flirt outrageously without losing her reputation, and was an indispensable accessory when sneaking off to an assignation. In short, as soon as people put on masks they begin to violate social norms.

In psychology, this effect is known as ‘disinhibition’, and there’s a rich research literature on masks as disinhibiting props. In a typical experiment in 1976, researchers at Western Illinois University paid students to walk around their campus cafeteria carrying a banner reading: ‘Masturbation is fun.’ Students who were allowed to wear a ski mask were willing to do it for an average of $29.98, while bare-faced students demanded almost twice as much. A 1979 study at Purdue University found that trick-or-treating children, when left alone with a bowl of candy and told to take just one piece, were significantly more likely to grab a handful if their costumes included masks. This was true even when they had already told the researchers their names.

Identical patterns appear when people interact online. In the article ‘The Online Disinhibition Effect’ (2004), the psychologist John Suler at Rider University in New Jersey distinguishes benign disinhibition (a tendency for people to be more open when communicating virtually) from toxic disinhibition. A study in 2000 for the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that people reported more drug use when questionnaires were administered by computer instead of in person. In research published in 1996 by scientists at the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago established that, when dealing with a computer (as opposed to a human interviewer), male respondents report having fewer sexual partners – and women more. Various other researchers, including Adam Joinson in Bristol and Joseph Walther at Cornell, have found that people disclose more personal information chatting online, as opposed to speaking face-to-face. These are all positive examples of the liberating influence of online masking. As Suler notes: ‘Hostile words in a chat encounter could be a therapeutic breakthrough for some people.’

But online life is also riddled with toxic disinhibition. A Pew survey in 2014 found that 40 per cent of adult internet users reported being harassed online. Most harassment consisted of insults and verbal humiliation, but 8 per cent of respondents said they’d experienced physical threats, and 7 per cent had been the targets of a sustained campaign of harassment. The problem is much worse among young people: 70 per cent of those aged 18-24 claimed to be victims of online harassment. A Johns Hopkins University study in 2007 found that 64 per cent of bullied children were exclusively attacked online. That is, many children who were habitual bullies on social media would completely refrain from this behaviour when meeting their victims in person.

The uncomfortable message is that online mask-wearing doesn’t just conceal one’s identity, it transforms it – just as with ritual mask-wearers possessed by unruly gods. These effects are strongly amplified by a sense of the activity as separate from ‘real’ life. Suler calls this phenomenon ‘dissociative imagination’, commenting: ‘people may feel that the imaginary characters they “created” exist in a different space, that one’s online persona… [inhabits] a make-believe dimension, separate and apart from the demands and responsibilities of the real world.’"



"Updated and transferred online, both the masked avenger and the Schandmaske reappear in the phenomenon of internet shaming, where a crowd of strangers come together to punish someone, usually for an offensive statement. These campaigns can quickly escalate from insults to death threats, and almost always include demands that the target be fired from their job – demands that are often gratified by intimidated employers. Targets are also ‘doxxed’, meaning that their personal details are published online – a practice that combines the symbolic unmasking of the lucha libre wrestler with the implied threat of real-world violence. Most of the aggressors are masked by anonymity. All are operating in the world of the computer screen, where the consequences of actions – losing one’s livelihood for a single off-colour joke – can be seen as symbolic, not quite real.

An essential part of internet shaming is that the target is reduced to a single definition: they are made to wear the mask of the Sexist or the Racist (or the Angry Feminist or the Race-Baiter). Then, just as with the medieval Scold’s Bridle, a mob gathers to throw filth and insults at the idea represented by the mask. The other qualities of its wearer, and the suffering they experience, remain out of sight, and mind.

These considerations might make both masks and online communication seem dangerous and uncanny; a thing we would be well-advised to avoid, since much of our social life has overtones of a mask experience. We go to work and wear a professional mask, then come home and adopt a parental mask. We even have specific personas that go with individual friends. As Johnstone writes:
We don’t realise that much of our lives is spent in some form of trance, ie absorbed. What we assume to be ‘normal consciousness’ is actually quite rare, it’s like the light in the refrigerator: when you look in, there you are ON, but what’s happening when you don’t look in?

These mask states have a purpose. Role-playing provides us with a suite of shortcuts, facilitating behaviours that might feel false or embarrassing to our ‘true’ selves (think of making polite small talk, or singing nonsense songs to a three-year-old). When people see us in terms of these masks, we’re mostly content to let them do so. We do not interrupt business meetings by saying: ‘Hold on – I also have a range of tender emotions’, or break into a romantic moment by saying: ‘These clichéd endearments don’t fit very well with my usual idea of myself.’ And in fact, the self might just be an agglomeration of masks, of all the roles we play, including the roles we play in private fantasies; a personal Mardi Gras that parades multifariously through our lives.

So the point is not that we should always be our ‘true’ selves – an aim that is probably impossible, and certainly impractical. Instead, we should learn to understand the power of the masks we wear. We should cultivate an awareness of when we’re being unduly ‘possessed’ by them, and practise the invaluable skill of tearing them off in a timely fashion. We should resist any angry impulse to pick up a mask that carries a streak of sadism. When others are trying to impose a ‘punishment mask’ on someone else, we should have the courage to intervene. Above all, we should remember that, behind the masked figures that surround us, there are people as vulnerable, fallible, as real as ourselves."
sandranewman  masks  online  web  internet  behavior  disinhibition  shaming  play  bullying  culture  anonymity  hooliganism  responsibility  identity  vandalism  psychology  johnsuler  benigndisinhibition  toxicdisinhibition  adamjoinson  josephwalther  masking  hostility  harassment  socialmedia  transgression  dissociativeimagination  personas  onlinepersonas  luchalibre  mexico  humiliation  superheroes  comics  sadism  mardigras  carnaval  self 
december 2015 by robertogreco
A mask maker's journey, in and out of the wrestling ring - latimes.com
"Clothes make the man. But what about the man who makes the clothes? ... In this case, for characters in the colorful, uber-dramatic world of Mexican freestyle wrestling.

Manuel Quiroz is the "chingon" mask and gear maker for fighters across the globe, many in L.A.’s popular lucha libre circuit. His journey to be known as the "best of the best" as he puts it, is as finely detailed and at times dramatic as a character plot constructed for the very fighters he clothes.

When he was an aimless teenager in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Quiroz’s curiosity led him to toy around with his mother’s sewing machine. Soon after, he took up an apprenticeship with a local tailor, who doubled as a luchador in the wrestling ring.

Quiroz learned to sew wedding suits for grooms, before the wild personas and physical action of lucha libre enticed him. His sewing teacher became his mentor and wrestling trainer -- a nurturing relationship the now 54-year-old mask maker holds dear decades later. "He give me [advice]," Quiroz reflects with a thoughtful pause. "He give me a lot."

With that training, Quiroz moved up the local lucha libre ranks and gained renown as an amateur champion under character names such as El Cachorro, Reptilico and Atlantico. He even went pro in 1982. But after a big championship win, a follow-up match in Mexico City would change the fabric of the luchador’s life forever.

Quiroz’s voice cracks and tears well up in his gentle brown eyes as he recalls that match. "In a moment, everything is black. Supposedly, somebody jumped me off the rope." Quiroz toppled onto the first line of bolted chairs in the audience. The fall had broken his back. Doctors gave the wrestler six months to re-learn how to walk, or else, they warned, he’d permanently lose the use of his legs.

...The fighter triumphed, and walked in three months.

In an effort to leave behind his painfully dashed dreams of luchador fame, Quiroz relocated to Texas, then Los Angeles -- a journey wrought with financial struggles. Quiroz sang in a mariachi band and stitched suits for his friends to make money before taking up available sewing gigs at various clothing manufacturers. He found a renewed focus on tailoring, and lucha libre was a distant memory.

Until eight years ago, when his son rekindled his father’s dream. "Daddy, I want to wrestle," Quiroz’s son admitted one day. His son asked his father -- now a master tailor in his own right -- to sew his lucha gear. "When he started training, he knew the gear is no good," Quiroz explains, adding, "So he tell me, OK, Daddy, you know how to do this job … Do it."

His son’s request awakened a new dream for Quiroz.

The mask maker now spends 15 hours a day in the dusty, tight sewing room of his South L.A. home, cutting, stitching, creating gear to be donned by larger-than-life characters in the ring -- a place he’s learned to happily observe from the outside. "My dream is no more lucha, but more mask," the tailor says.

Quiroz charges $100 for a simple mask, and up to $300 for a more detailed one, many of which are showcased at events thrown by the L.A.-based wrestling, burlesque and comedy act Lucha VaVOOM. "If you put something in your mind, I’ll make it on my machine."

Quiroz dedicates a balanced amount of effort in each piece of gear he creates. "Every guy coming to me is really important and they’re all equal," he says. The tailor knows all too well that people go through tough times. "One time, someone paid me with a crate of Jarritos [Mexican soda]," he chuckles, making the tailor’s humble beginnings and passion for creating lucha gear even more apparent.

"The rich men is [not] the men have more money. Is the men have more love," Quiroz sweetly reflects.

Though, he admits with a smile, he does enjoy the celebrity treatment he and his wife of 35 years receive at local lucha matches as Mr. Quiroz, "el mascarero.""
masks  glvo  2014  luchalibre  wrestling  manuelquiroz  losangeles  projectideas  mascarero  video 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face on Vimeo
"The Facial Weaponization Suite develops forms of collective and artistic protest against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities these technologies propagate–by making masks in community-based workshops that are used for public intervention. One mask, the Fag Face Mask, is a response to scientific studies that link determining sexual orientation through rapid facial recognition. This mask is generated from the biometric facial data of many queer men’s faces, resulting in a mutated, alien facial mask that cannot be read or parsed by biometric facial recognition technologies."
zachblas  faces  facialrecognition  surveillance  biometrics  queer  masks  2013  via:soulellis  activism  zapatistas  pussyriot  ows  occupywallstreet  blackblock  anonymous  facelessness  nypd  homelandsecurity  privacy  law  legal  nonexistence  identification  revolution 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Nick Cave Lecture at Fowler Museum, Jan. 9, 2010 on Vimeo
"A lecture presentation by Nick Cave about his signature Soundsuits is followed by a conversation between Nick Cave and the Fowler Museum's director Marla C. Berns about the global resonances in the artist's work.

This event was organized in conjunction with the exhibition "Nick Cave: Meet Me At The Center Of The Earth" which is on view at the Fowler Museum at UCLA January 10 - May 30, 2010."
costumes  music  masks  nickcave  art  performance  fowlermuseum  ucla  lectures  conversations  2010  textiles  wearable  performanceart  sewing  sound  soundsuits  glvo  classideas  tcsnmy  artists  expression  design  dance  sculpture  fabric  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  wearables 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems - NYTimes.com
"To test the birds’ recognition of faces separately from that of clothing, gait and other individual human characteristics, Dr. Marzluff and two students wore rubber masks. He designated a caveman mask as “dangerous” and, in a deliberate gesture of civic generosity, a Dick Cheney mask as “neutral.” Researchers in the dangerous mask then trapped and banded seven crows on the university’s campus in Seattle.
crows  corvids  intelligence  birds  memory  facerecognition  masks 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Subjectivity And The Subjugated
"Regardless of exactly the nature of what his photographs evoke, they are evocative, and very often beautiful, which is possibly the best one can say about a photograph from the artist’s standpoint. Not from a documentarian’s, or an ethnologist’s standpoint certainly, but from an artist’s."
costumes  ethnography  glvo  masks  nativeamerican  pacificnorthwest  cascadia  photography  history  comments  truth  nonist 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Terrifying bike helmet filters bad air, increases fear - Engadget
"biking helmet...dubbed "Breathe Air"...in addition to looking like Michael Myers + a Storm Trooper + The Predator, also features filtering "shield" over the mouth and nose, which cuts particles and dust, then expels them through a plastic tube when the u
bikes  masks  urban  helmets 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Helmet of the day
"One Eye Ball is an attempt by Hung-Chih Pen to experience the world from the view of dogs."
animals  art  technology  video  visualization  perspective  masks  dogs 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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