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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Informing Contexts – Ghost in the Shell

Went to see the film Ghost in the Shell at the suggestion of my module leader, Steph Cosgrove.

The film has stunning imagery and depicts the use of masks, geishas and other influences from Japan.  Set in the future, scientists have developed a way to integrate a human brain into a mechanical body, or “shell”. By just looking, we are unable to tell the difference between those inside a shell and those who are still human.


Figure 1: Film Still From Ghost In the Shell. Paramount Picture. 2017

The main character played by Scarlett Johansson, has had her brain placed inside one of these shells.  Some of her memories have been suppressed and she is unable to recall her earliest memories.

What struck me during the film was how hiding behind masks, we can never truly reveal ourselves. A photograph taken of us wearing the mask produces a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional person.  The image is taken in an instant and so is only representative of us in that instant.

How can I apply this to my practice?  Using masks in my shoots gives me the opportunity to explore visually the clues that tell us who we are looking at.  This will be particularly interesting when I take my self portraits.  Will I be able to communicate the real me in a single photograph?


Figure 1: Film Still.  From Khaw, C. (2017). How Ghost in the Shell got its main characters wrong—and why it matters. [online] Ars Technica. Available at: [Accessed 02 April 2017].

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