Cover Story is a video installation that draws attention to the significance attributed to both 'normal' and 'abnormal' human faces and to the impulse to classify people in terms of gender, race, age, ability and social status. In the installation an image of an out of focus flesh-coloured shape is projected onto a black wall. The shape gradually resolves into a face with no identifying features. The experience of watching this blurred form is unsettling. It reveals the strength of the human impulse to attribute a recognizable identity to a face. It also demonstrates how the erasure or illegibility of the face inevitably troubles any reading of individual identity. Beside the projection a black and white head and shoulders shot of a woman is shown on a small monitor. She is seen recounting the personal experiences of someone who, it seems, has a facial abnormality, but her voice is not heard and her face looks relatively ‘normal’. Her words are articulated through exaggerated facial gestures and subtitles. There is a clear disjunction between the appearance of the face of the person shown on the monitor and the narrative text. Cover Story explores the extent to which the identity of any 'normal' or 'abnormal' subject is constructed in the mind of the observer.
Video projection (loop 8min 32sec); monitor (loop 5min 20sec).
The Cover Story project was developed with the help of Changing Faces, a charity that supports and represents people with facial disfigurements. A version of the work was originally commissioned by Commissions East for UK Science Week, 2006 (see Earlier Version, link below left). This version included an interactive element, where a 3D model of a face would turn to try to maintain eye contact with individual audience members. In 2009 the installation was reworked to its final, current form (see Photos link below), which comprises of just the monitor and projection.