I’ve had this photo on my desktop for about a week-and-a-half now. Its been vexing me … but also offering to let me go in exchange for a few words. I’m not saying the caption below isn’t perfectly clear. I just can’t help seeing a second face in the picture. It’s a surreal and distended one formed from the pattern in the scarf as well as it’s odd shape in the wind. Do you see what I’m looking at or am I playing too loose with Occam’s Razor? The point is like a nose. The circle in the scarf is like an eye. The row of dotted lines that go sideways, then down, are like a mouth. Anyway, I don’t think this photo would have circulated like it has without the hint of a dysmorphic apparition. Like “elephant man.”
We could see it as an alter ego — like we all have a little monster in us. Or to be more culturally accurate and positive, there’s the strength and power of the Chinese dragon. But then, knowing the woman is protecting herself from Beijing’s poisonous air, maybe the sense of (trans)mutation has to do with our planet giving way.
(photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters. caption: A woman wearing a scarf covering her face to protect herself from pollution walks in a park in Beijing on March 18, 2015.)