Pixelation of People’s Faces

People’s faces are being pixelated more often in newspapers and on TV. It used to be that only the suspects of serious crime had their eyes obscured by the familiar black bar, but now lots of people we see on the news have their faces obscured by a circle of enlarged pixels. Even in Google Map’s new ‘Street View’ application the faces of people on the street are automatically blurred to protect their privacy. Privacy itself has also become an increasingly debated term recently, with more and more people claiming that they have a ‘right to privacy’, even when they are in public. In thinking about these issues I decided to experiment with a picture I had clipped from a newspaper. It was a school class portrait in which the newspaper had decided to pixelate the face of each student. I ‘deconstructed’ the conventional composition of this photograph by scanning small portions of the image, of only a few millimetres across, and then re-arranging them in various kinds of grids. With the original news context of the image stripped away, and each face isolated for comparison, I wondered if the viewer might experience the act of pixelation itself differently. What does it do to its subjects, besides preserving their privacy, does it turn them into criminals or victims?

One thought on “Pixelation of People’s Faces

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