Faceless

On the fifth sub-basement level of the northeast regional archives compound (NERAC) are around 6,000 photographs and sketches depicting subjects whose faces are covered, either by their own hand or some other hand. There are versions of what’s known as “the woman with the gun” photograph (below) dating from circa 1948. It’s difficult to say which image is the original, the primary image, and in fact more than one archivist has suggested–after careful inspection of the details–that they are two separate photographs taken at precisely the same moment. This theory has gained traction of late, as digital encoding and sourcing technologies have improved to the point that we can say that the two images are, in fact, in perfect keeping with each other, apart from the two obvious differences (left-facing/right-facing and exposure). As improbable as it seems, we know now what quantum physics knows: that two incompatible states can exist simultaneously, that A and B can equal B and A, or BA/AB. The doubled, doppelgänged world is the natural world, made unnatural by its division. At NERAC the archivists are working to collapse that division and restore the balance.

 

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