Object in the News: The Face Privatizer

Rob Walker (aka murketing) dissects how a current newsworthy subject’s use of a sunvisor has unintentionally become a statement on panopticonic celebrity culture and technology - from Design Observer:

But let’s put aside the question of how this object came into existence. What I’m interested in is how Stiviano is using it: Not to protect herself from the sun’s glare, but rather from the media glare. In other words, she is misusing, but I’d say rather effectively. This is a pretty good object-use hack.

And the aesthetics are, in my view, amazing: Unlike the traditional coat draped over a bowed head, or whatever, this visor allows her to do more than thwart perp-walk aesthetics. Instead she rather brazenly defies paparazzi culture. And indeed she seems to know what she’s doing, as she pairs her weird Darth Vader headgear with overtly camera-ready outfits — from semi-blingy-business attire to ostentatiously “casual” combinations of silly T shirts and cutoffs.

… And interestingly, in almost every picture I’ve seen, she’s prominently clutching some kind of image-making device: either a smartphone with an attachment I don’t understand … or … an enormous camera.

It is as if her jarring, sci-fi look is not merely defensive (anybody who cares to can find a million pictures of her face online right now) but a blunt provocation — meshing a public presence, an absurdly privatized face, and gadgetry for documentation. (In the images I’ve seen, she’s never documenting anything, just brandishing some gizmo that could do so if she cared to.)

Obviously it’s the privatized face, and the object privatizing it, that makes the resulting documentation
of her so compelling …

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