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Houston Center for Photography

Online Exhibition: 2017 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship Honorable Mention

Friday, May. 12, 2017 – Sunday, Jul. 2, 2017

Rashed_Haq-8

Rashed Haq
Un\Masked

In modern society, we have access to greater information and more options to choose from than in past eras. While there are advantages to this, it forces each of us to digest more complex ideas and interact with more complicated systems and networks. This complexity is likely to grow exponentially in the near future, catalyzed by technology and information. While some people are adept at dealing with this, ever greater numbers are struggling. We can see the partial impact of this with greater incidences of mental anguish and the increased need for daily pharmaceutical support to cope.

As a participant in the application of ever more sophisticated technologies in our lives, I have a front seat view of our increasingly complicated world. My experience as someone who succumbed to and recovered from the distress of this greater complexity that we must grapple with, has made me aware of the need for a better balance.

My artistic explorations are motivated by the duality and conflict of these experiences, where science and technology impact society and human psychology. Through my work, I hope to challenge the cultural ambivalence and enhance our mindfulness about the choices we make that increase the complexity of our lives, on both societal and individual levels.

My latest project, “Un\Masked" is a photographic exploration of the psychological spaces that many of us sometimes inhabit, from calm to unsettled, due to our increasingly complicated world.

The subjects in the photographs are contacted via social media or through acquaintances, and invited to collaborate on the project. The resulting images are created by working blind in a completely dark studio. While the subjects re-imagine emotional periods from their lives, light is poured by hand, as if using a paint brush, to illuminate and paint them.

Each image is made as a single exposure, often over 20 minutes long, combining evolving emotional states into a single moment, suggesting a metaphor for how we transform psychologically over time. This process enables chance to play a role in the collusion of darkness and light to unmask our internal states onto the subjects’ likenesses. Only afterwards can we see where the process led, often resulting in the discovery of unanticipated images.

The image titles are created using artificial intelligence to reflect the increasing complexity of our world. The AI algorithm looks at the final image, and develops a prose poem to share its impression of the photograph.

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