Masks and Storytelling
Masks to me are more than mere costume pieces. They go far beyond that. A mask is a permission, an option, an opening, a doorway through which we change. Wearing a mask allows you to become someone else for just a little while. You get to shape-shift temporary into anything you can imagine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a literal mask, a costume, a uniform, a job position, or just a state of mind. A perceptual shift is just the beginning of our transformation.
Something wonderful happens when you wear a mask, or convincing costume. At first you experience how other react. Fear, recognition, delight, aloof uncaring. But as you experience these changes you yourself begin to adopt the role and become the subject.
Let me tell you a little story- Last year I embarked to become something inhuman. It was for an indoor fantasy convention. (FaerieCon West if you want the details.) My goal was to erase the aspects of my self easily identifiable as human. My years as an artist and training in psychology made this an obvious choice. The hands and face. If this -> 🙂 two dots and a curved line can be identified as a human face than it is critical to warp that aspect of yourself. The hands are only second. Just look at how much it is evident when hands are drawn badly. Mask, gloves, finger extensions, and a simple black robe. This was the result.
Thanks for the great photo Byron. You rock my socks.
The results on me and the viewers was most certainly interesting. Fear and revulsion obviously, mostly directed at the eyes and hands. Which only made me want to use my hands more and stare at people. As the night wore on this became bird like quirks of the head and expressive gestures. Children yielded some of the more satisfying reactions. One little girl of no more than six stood stock still staring at me. A crowd gathered in a ring around us wondering how she would react. I crouched down to eye level looking at her quizzically. She walked closer over coming her fear and I put out my hands. She did not run or balk. Just put her hands in mine smiling. Someone in the crowd whispered “That is one brave little girl” Whoever you were sir- bless you, I was grinning my ass off under that mask. She giggled and told me “You sure are funny!” Everyone laughed. The crowd dispersed. The rest of the night was marked by similar incidents. People hurrying out of elevators to escape my soulless stare, avoidance, wonder, treating me like a guest from another world.
That in my mind is what a faery should be- Strange, surreal, unknowable, inhuman. That event got my mind spinning. For years I have told stories without words. I have created art. Opened doors to other realms. But often it has left so many things unanswered. As I passed by in the hall. “Great costume, creepy, but what the heck is it?”
My decision to dive into the world of authorship was one driven purely by the desire to keep opening doors. I had hit the limit. I doodled, and drew, and painted, and brought ideas to light. I worked harder and brought physical items into our world. Masks and costumes, gems from one hundred lost worlds. But it has never been enough. I have more in my mind than I can express with just pictures. It was time to create a relationship with words.
I never wanted to be or set out to write. I simply wanted to create. To that end I have worn many masks. Finally it is time to take them off.