July 2019

Escape your digital footprint

“All eyes on me!”

Sounds like fun, until you realise that in 2019, those eyes are digital – and your freedom depends on it. Since time immemorial, fashion has been one way to advertise your identity and express yourself, whether it’s grief, happiness, confidence or a political statement. For some, however, anonymity is the ultimate goal – and your looks can serve to make you practically unidentifiable in this day and age.

Here, photographer Maan Limburg and make-up artist Charlotte van Beusekom explore four ways to accomplish this by creating beauty looks that would render any facial-recognition software useless. The pictures are based on the requirements for your passport photo and are (debatably) within the legal boundaries of Hong Kong legislation. By using hair to reshape the face, and by using make-up or simple stickers to block important measurement points – such as the distance between the eyebrows and between the eyes, ears and nose – even sophisticated recognition programmes would have trouble identifying this person.

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Studies show that when people are watched or think they are being watched, they will display different behaviour then they would normally; this is known as the Hawthorne effect. Following this principle, in controlling your looks, you can also control whether or not the algorithms can decipher who you are. By sharing these simple looks, Maan hopes she can give people a way to reclaim their identities. They can choose to deconstruct the lines of their face and add new ones with make-up – and in this way, be themselves more freely.

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Photography & Art Direction / Maan Limburg

Make-Up / Charlotte van Beusekom

Model / Ita Nuola at Models Rock Agency

Assistant / Maud van den Boogert