Can there be any beauty in today’s surveillance? In the Mallards’ Call, I repurpose imaging surveillance technologies to the photographic space that lays at the intersection of personal documentary and art. A long-time cybersecurity researcher by background, I now resolved to turn surveillance technology towards myself. I intend to record in my images the resulting introspective investigations, in the attempt to make the invisible visible. In so doing, I aim to shed new light on the absences in our lives. I aim to address the epidemic level of loneliness in today’s society, and how the said condition incentives the use of social media, where the present body of work was live shared during its production. Mediating almost every form of social participation, those media are, in fact, perfect surveillance platforms in disguise. Appropriating the techniques of surveillance, and exploring how surveillance underpins our way of life, the present project questions the politics and aesthetics of surveillance themselves.
To develop the concept, I returned alone to the prairie where I used to walk with my late wife, and I started photographing an allegorical elegy for her and on the lonely human condition. Each image was inspired by the wakas collected in the Man’yōshū, from which the present work draws both its title and the captions.
With the project revolving around absences and their allegorical representations, the process reflects such void by resorting on infrared illuminators for night vision as modelling lights lighting the new-moon nights’ scenes, and on infrared cameras. The lights employed are outside the visible spectrum. As such, they cannot be seen, just like the beloved longed for, by all mammals –photographer included.
Alfonso de Gregorio (b. 1978, IT) is an artist, globally recognised cybersecurity technologist, featured speaker in 25+ leading peer-reviewed international events, and hacker. His chief artistic concern is to raise questions about the world and time we live in. In his practice, Alfonso examines the aesthetics and politics of surveillance, traumatic memory, and sustainability. He works, above all, with the media of image-making, informatics, lecture, and engineering.