Part of the
exhibition

CARLOS AMORALES The Factory

23 Nov 2019 until 17 May 2020

Longread — 29 Nov 2019 — Carlos Amorales

I. Working in The Factory.

A mask and a fictional character allowed me to create an artistic persona that I could lend to others to perform, so in the mid-1990s I could avoid being framed as a non-Western artist who was obliged to represent its “genuine” culture in a European art world that exoticized the foreigner. The exotic exterior of the mask allowed me to catch the public´s attention, but inside the mask I was free to research the conceptual artistic strategies that interested me, just like any Western artist who was not expected to represent his or her cultural identity, and who could make work about non-representational subjects.

The mask I chose to have made was a wrestling mask. What interested me about this sort of mask was that it came from popular culture and not from a national or folkloric tradition. It belongs to the contemporary world of spectacle and pop culture. I commissioned a mask maker to make a portrait of me, and it became my doppelganger. I named it Amorales, and that became my artistic name. I became Carlos Amorales.

Coinciding with the discussion in the mid-90s about the opening of the Western art world to non-Western artists, which was centered on identity and how it had to be represented through the artwork and the person, Internet was introduced in Europe on a massive scale.

In the 1990s, questions about the status of the self in the virtual world and how the private and the public spheres would intermingle became important. In this light, the fictional identity I had invented and was performing was in line with the idea of the avatar as a medium of self-representation that could be projected in the multilayered world of Internet. Because a mask is, by definition, a layer between the inside and the outside, it was the ideal tool for researching this new space that was becoming accessible to citizens around the world.

I became interested in how this liminal layer functioned as situated “in between” the self and the other, the public and the private, the fact and the fiction, and art and reality. I understood that the mask is not only a representational image but a tool to perform in a given time and space, which is defined as the meeting of two realms of existence: the real and the virtual. In the last twenty years these two existential realms have been merged together and become indistinguishable. Society is represented in social media and vice versa, each feeding the other as if forming a closed circuit. Every new generation becomes more accustomed to the fusion of the two worlds, no longer distinguishing the differences between the two symbolical orders. It is as if the mask has become a porous layer – or has simply disappeared.

The mask can be considered as an interface standing between reality and fiction. I use the word “interface” the sense of “user interface”, a term which refers to a medium that enables interaction between people and computers by means of graphic metaphors that represent common objects

or places, so that people can easily activate digital functions. It a kind of mask, whether for a thing or a concept.

Certain graphic techniques (analogue and digital) relating to the concepts of mask and interface, and certain of the visual arts techniques (e.g. stenciling patterns and cutouts), make it possible to schematize, obliterate and transfigure form. Techniques such as these mask images and texts: a silhouette hides the content of a form by preserving its contours; a system of symbols can be made illegible, hiding the meaning of the words but preserving its formal structure.

After working with an actual mask, I used silhouettes to produce film animations and pop images. Later, I worked with encrypted texts in a way that was similar to data masking, until I managed to encrypt the voice. The last 25 years of my artistic career have been devoted to a research process on the subject of mask (and masking) that has transited from the body to the voice, through image and text. This research process follows a conceptual and experimental methodology, consisting of four groups of axioms for action:

1. The first set of axioms

The first set of axioms generates a kind of interface based of the artist’s Self, in order to articulate action in the space between the private and the public, and in particular between the space of the art world and that of other industries. The interface is an object that entails the anonymity of its users, who are hidden behind a single alias: Amorales.

Axioms for action 1.1

Elaboration of a written format that makes possible the permutation between the exterior and interior of the art world, through identity.

Axioms for action 1.2

Given the permutation, the artist takes leave of the art world in order to observe and document the reality of other industries. The documentation of these actions may reach the art world.

Axioms for action 1.3

The artist commissions a craftsperson to fabricate an object that represents him (an interface), and delivers it to a non-artist to use as if he or she were the artist.

Axioms for action 1.4

The artist returns to the art world and duplicates the object that represents him (the interface), making it possible to multiply his identity. A name is given to the interface/character.

Axioms for action 1.5

Then the interface/character is turned inside out, showing that it is a container and making it apparent that the object is an artifice. (We see its stitches.) The visual representation of the interface becomes a tool.

2. The second set of axioms

The second set of axioms explores how to activate the interface in public space through performances that define the (amoral) characteristics of the interface and the gradual disappearance of the artist.

Axioms for action 2.1

The interface speaks within the art world, while the artist, unnoticed, documents it from the position of the public. The artist becomes a documentarian, director or manager. The interface becomes a performer.

Axioms for action 2.2

The artist and the interface take leave of the art world in order to affect the reality of other industries. The transformations of the artist and the interface remain on the outside, and only the documentation reaches the art world.

Axioms for action 2.3

The artist and the interface return to the art world in the form of an event at which the interface interacts with a first layer of the public, which becomes part of the event. A second layer of public congregates around this first layer, and the artist disappears into it.

Axioms for action 2.4

The interface introduces a political activist into the art world. The political activist and an artist dialogue publicly about their practices. They need a translator, who in turn becomes the interface with the public.

Axioms for action 2.5

During a public act in the art world, one user of the interface replaces another. This action reaffirms that anyone can animate the interface. In the world of activism this tactic is used to prevent the authorities from apprehending those with the greatest visibility in the media, given that anyone could be behind the interface.

3. The third set of axioms

The third set of axiomsgenerates a professional spectacle of the private in the public space. The dialectical concepts of spectacle (good against evil) are supplemented by the concept of “the amoral,” suspending the classic narrative in favor of form. The interface gains independence to the degree that the artist disseminates it among multiple users.

Axioms for action 3.1

Two events are presented simultaneously in different contexts, the interface participating in one and its replica in the other. The event is thus also duplicated, but the public experiences each instance as unique.

Axioms for action 3.2

The replicas of the interface are used to create a spectacle outside the art world. The industry in which it is carried out does not understand the duality of its structure; therefore, the spectacle thus created breaks with its own dialectic by exposing its formal structure.

Axioms for action 3.3

The replicas of the interface are used in a performance inside the art world. The formal structure of the performance is broken at some point during its execution, giving way to the dialectics of spectacle—the conflict between good and evil.

Axioms for action 3.4

A performance is carried out in which the artist himself activates the interface, by granting it his body and his individual identity. This performance presents the artist as an undisciplined being who sows chaos among the public.

Axioms for action 3.5

The artist goes out into the world in order to create an action in which a group of people uses the idea of the interface to see, distance themselves from, and critique their own reality. The idea is that art concepts can be used as precedents for transforming reality.

4. The fourth set of axioms

With the fourth set of axioms, the interface becomes a language. The artist develops a working platform using tools with which he generates masked contents that are disseminated in society.

Axioms for action 4.1

A disciplined labor structure—a studio with craftspeople—is generated wherein a set of artistic and non-artistic objects is produced and made commercially available in the world. The artist generates his own industry using what he has learned from all previous axioms. Henceforth, action is understood as the artist’s industrial process from the standpoint of his studio. The digital animations are now made, taking the performances with the interface as a point of departure.

Axioms for action 4.2

A 3-D interface is used to produce sculptures based on the digital animations, to create a material reality – an installation – with a digital aesthetic. It allows for the exploration of a performance in which a robot carries out actions according to alternate laws of physics. This fantastical world can only be represented by means of specialized tools.

Axioms for action 4.3

The studio is automated, generating encrypted codes that are shared with different people who may or may not be involved in the art world. The studio becomes the interface and operates on different levels and in different formats. The artist no longer needs to activate it in order to actuate contents because the studio/interface is automatically activated by its users.

Axioms for action 4.4

The artist becomes just one element of his interface/studio: he can discuss, debate, teach, and make music, images and texts with his collaborators and visitors (as in the public space). The dialectic is broken because there are three spheres affecting each other: the art institution, the interface/studio and the outside world.

Axioms for action 4.5

A new artwork is completed, which operates exclusively at the membrane between the art object and its public context, situated between the inside and the outside, similarly to the positioning of a mask. At a performative level, it means that the interface operates on the interface.

This configuration of axioms is the formal approach that I have followed to conceive and produce artworks that are performative, visual, musical and literary narratives. Through the years, an unconscious theme has emerged and gradually become evident in many of my artworks: many of them suggest, at a narrative level, the tense relationship between the individual and the group. 

The following are some examples:

  • A wrestling mass spectacle shows the inner struggle of the self, representing in public what is perhaps the most private of internals dialogues, in a carnivalesque event.
  • A masked person, disguised as a devil, stands over a star painted on the floor of a gallery. The devil invites the audience to dance with him.
  • A rock music record label that popularizes an adolescent longing for a subculture from an earlier era, which becomes part of contemporary youth culture after being appropriated by the pirate economy.
  • The intimate image of a room full of moths that appeared in my mind when saying goodbye to my dying grandmother is made by me into an art piece that is appropriated and exploited by the fashion industry; the image becoming a sort of meme. 
  • A formal reflection about the natural catastrophe that destroyed the city where I was born, changing its society. 
  • A photo-novella narrative about an undeclared war against drugs that I cannot manage to understand, made of media photographs of dead bodies, “talking” in an unintelligible language.
  • The tension between the ideal of anarchism and the need for a society governed by rules, in the form of a chaotic musical instrument that by being played by the audience, generates the imposition of rules by the institution. 
  • The erasure and modification of a civil code by multiple lawyers, who read and re-write it according to their own personal interests.
  • The introduction of an unintelligible typography into a cultural institution, with the intention of replacing every text, so no one can understand anything that has been written.
  • A puppet animation showing the brutal lynching of a family of immigrants is a reflection on the vacuum of State power and how, as a consequence, people take the law in their own hands.
  • A rock/noise band that plays songs based in Artaud´s description of how he became institutionalized in a mental hospital, losing control over his own life. The last song is called The Masses and is about how the masses do not like his poetry.
  • A room full of black and white vignettes shows a medieval-like society that is sick with Tourette’s syndrome, as a reflection on the phenomenon of “Shit Storms” that has become commonplace on social media.
  • A woven frieze examining the phenomenon of Internet memes, in which the hero is trapped in a perpetual, narcissistic orgy, in which the sole participants are transformed replicas of the hero, as if in an echo chamber.

Together, these narratives propose a discourse about the objectual and conceptual use of the mask in society. The mask is understood by acknowledging that its place is in the liminality existing between the self and the group, as a device for managing the relationship between them. A rhetoric of the mask is co-formed by a working methodology in the form of axioms and a theme in the form of narrations. 

II. The rhetoric of the mask.

In the Universe of the Mask, Mask Language can be used to represent a mask in this way: I}. This is the primary symbol representing the mask. 

When the Internet was introduced to society, the sign that was used to symbolize it was this: @. In an email address it stands between our name and the institution that we belong to.

A mask can be used in theatre. This is the traditional setting for the mask in Western culture. In classical Greek theatre masks were worn by the main actors and by the members of the choir. Because only male actors where allowed to perform, in certain cases they wore masks to represent female characters; a mask permitted an actor to represent a woman. The Greeks established that both the individual and the group could be masked. This means the representation of the opposition between the individual and the group, just as it happens in society.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the actor in opposition to the choir is: A} - {Ch+{Ch+{Ch+{Ch+{Ch

A mask can function as a prosthesis to hide a physical deformity, a socially intolerable monstrousness. This type of mask becomes a substitute for the face; an artificial face replacing the real one. It can be seen as the mask of a victim – not the victim of a victimizer, necessarily, but of someone or something larger: God or Nature. This sort of mask exists in reality and in fiction. It can be worn by an individual or by a community of people. An online avatar can also become a facial prothesis.

In Mask Language, the symbols of the facial prosthesis are: Ñ} or {ñ (depending on whether we understand the individual to have been a victim of nature or of God) 

A mask can be used by a superhero. Superheroes are fantasy personas with special and specific extraordinary powers that characterize them in archetypical ways. Superheroes have schematic basic psychologies through which they are rendered as simplistic personalities. Sometimes this psychological simplicity can be emphasized by a mask depicting the character´s powers in a graphic way. The image of the superhero is necessary for someone who has been thoroughly dehumanized, for overcoming powerlessness. The superhero image is the product of resilience. In some cases political activists have appropriated and impersonated the image of the superhero.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the masked superhero is: })

A mask can be a toy for children or adults. Children use masks for playful impersonations of a superhero. The mask stimulates the imagination of a child who (alone or with other children) performs an alternative, idealized personality with imaginary powers. For adults the toy mask relates to eroticism. In terms of imaginary impersonation, the playful use of masks by adults is not very different than the child´s, it’s just that the ritual is focused on eroticism rather than on role play. A toy mask allows us to be different in an intimate situation.

In Mask Language, the symbols of the toy mask are: o} + {O

A mask has two sides: an interior side that faces towards the face of the person that is wearing it, and an exterior side that faces towards the person or persons (the ‘others’) who are looking at it. The interior side faces the self, the exterior side faces the other. The mask stands in between like a membrane. It is an artefact that hides the self from the gaze of the other, projecting the image of a fantastical character (a mythological figure, a superhero), a blank face or even the face of another (real) person. In these cases the mask represents another being, but a mask can also be the idealized representation of the self, or an exterior vison of how one is seen by the other.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the two sides of the mask is: /}/

Groups of people are impersonal, and when a person is masked in front of others, the personal self becomes an impersonal other, so from the public´s perspective the meeting is impersonal. In terms of impersonality, the masked person becomes equal to the group. Still, this state of impersonality only exists in the perception by the group, and the masked person can become possessed by the character represented by the mask, or can stay being themself, just hiding behind the mask. The sense of possession that the mask imparts on the self (the wearer) depends on the power of the mask, meaning the image of the mask can influence the wearer’s behavior towards the group. 

A person wearing a mask in public creates a moment of social exceptionality. It is a moment when something out of the ordinary happens, as at a carnival or orgy, or in a drama. If the situation happens without it being framed as having a ritual context (that is to say unexpectedly) the situation becomes a moment of radical estrangement, especially for those who witness it. although this type of situation is unusual, it can happen for various reasons: sometimes pragmatic ones, such as when someone needs to hide its face for biological reasons, or when someone wants to preserve an anonymous identity. Such situations may also come about due to the effect of culture, such as when a child wears the mask of a superhero. These are examples of situations in which a mask is used in public without a ritual context. 

Thee casual onlooker may perceive the wearing a mask outside of a ritual context as funny if the wearer is a child or clown, but if the wearer is an adult and there are no clear the reasons why he or she is wearing it, the situation can be perceived as threatening. Outside the ritual space we perceive masks as potentially dangerous, because they imply the anonymity of someone who has distanced itself from the situation. A mask is a distancing device that creates an uncanny situation. 

Masks are uncanny because they make us wonder who the wearer is. The person wearing a mask gains special powers: the power of distance, the power of anonymity and the power of becoming a fictional character. These three powers combined become the Power of the Mask. Therefore, the person who wears a mask has power.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the power of the mask is: I}((((((X

The active interaction of masked individuals and masked organizations in politics for the purpose of interfering in the social field is The Game of Masks. The Game of Masks is politics; it is the strategy for achieving one´s own goals by deceiving the other; it is the game played to impose the ‘I’ above the ‘them’. The I can also become the We, because the I is the self in the family, the school, the friend group, the guild, the union, the party, the government, the state, the country, the nation and every other form of collective organization, real or virtual, that the I belongs to. These organizations are in opposition to those conformed by others. The Game of Masks is the power game that everyone plays to attain wealth or survive. 

In Mask Language, the symbol for The Game of Masks is: }+}+}+}{+{+{+{

A mask portraying a fictional character allows the person who wears it to embody the power of fiction. A mask portraying the face of another person allows the person who wears it to embody the power of that person. A mask portraying a neutral face allows the person who wears it to embody the power of neutrality. A mask portraying the face of the wearing it allows the wearer to embody their own power. Such a mask allows the wearer to show a feeling on the outside that is different than what the wearer feels on the inside: the wearer can show happiness when feeling sad, and vice versa. To wear a mask of our own face allows us to be hypocritical.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the mask that portrays the wearer is: I)I

One can give a mask depicting one’s own face to another person to enable them to perform something that we don’t want to do, or are unable to do. In this case giving a mask of oneself to another person is not an act of hypocrisy. Giving a mask of oneself to another person is an act of self-duplication. Self-duplication is an act of unfolding. Self-duplication is power. This mask power can be duplicated and multiplied, to let others represent oneself in multiple places at the same time.

In Mask Language, the symbol of the mask that portrays the wearer, given to another is: H)/I)I

To make a mask of the self and give it to others is a way to distance our self from itself, so one can see oneself interacting in a situation with others. As well, to make a mask of one self is an act of branding the self. The public persona of a pop star or a politician is a mask of branding, it is the face that appears in the media, which hides its face behind the mask. Public personas are masks that become multiplied by the media. Public persona masks are needed by private persons for occupying the social space of the Internet. Occupying the space of social media in the Internet has become the ultimate space of self-colonization. Public personas occupy such space by letting their mask be multiplied by the media, private persons make a mask of their own, which allows them to be hypocritical. 

Hypocrisy is a consequence of colonization. Colonization produces hypocritical subjects, at least in the cases where people have been vanquished. Hypocrisy is a form of mask: it means YES on the outside but at the same time NO on the inside. Both the colonizer and the colonized can be hypocrites. The words YES/NO or NO/YES are masks in the form of text: a mask made of a simultaneous meaning of NO and YES is a language mask. Text can become a mask, as when a story that apparently means one thing actually means something else. This is the language of the colonies. WE KNOW IT. This is also the language of social media.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the mask of the colonized subject is: +{- or -{+

We have colonized social media space with a mask of ourselves. This mask is called an avatar. An avatar is a representation of the self that allows us to project ourselves into the virtual space. Some people invent fictional avatars as a way to represent themselves in social media space, but most people just make avatars with their own names and portraits, as masks of their own face. It is socially understood that a genuine trustworthy avatar must be closer in terms of representation to the real person. The more hypocritical the avatar, the more others trust in it. Hypocritical avatars are in communication with other hypocritical avatars. In many cases we don´t know what the real person is like. We just trust that they are trustworthy. But we know that we are not.

Social media relationships are a Game of Masks, although most people are unaware of it. Social media is inhabited by us and by the multitude. A multitude is a group, a mob, the mass. The individual is hypocritical, but the mass is honest. The mass is righteous. The mass has become the inquisitor in a world of hypocrites.

Online masks are configurations of pixels that form portrait images. Some people are so similar to their avatars, that in real life they are physical impersonators of the mask that they have produced online. Others deceive us in real life because they are unlike their masks. There is also the kind of people who are not aware that a mask can be produced online, so in real life they are just as ordinary as their avatars are. People build the story for their avatars in a timeline. This story is what makes them appear genuine, but since we are all YES/NO masks, on social media we are stories in a timeline.

The mask stands in between the online life of the avatar and the real life of the person. People no longer distinguish the difference between the two existential areas: the border has become blurred, but the mask still stands there. The mask becomes evident when we are deceived by Internet content, such as when we become aware that certain information is fictional, or that we have been approached by a fake identity. We become aware that we are being manipulated when we realize that the content that is offered to us in our timeline is too close to our desires. We realize that someone or something has put our desires in front of our mask. We call this Artificial Intelligence: a system operated by algorithms that, by gathering and analyzing the data trails that we leave behind us like snails in our timelines, predicts our desires in timelines and socially controls us.

Artificial Intelligence controls the apparently chaotic online world. It is the puppeteer that knows how to move the puppet strings – the strings are the algorithms. The dream is that the puppeteer is not a person, but a robotic mind that orders society by a YES/NO logic. The system is situated in the liminal space of the mask, interconnecting all masks, organizing them into social cells according to ideological affinity. To predict people´s desires and frustrations is to predict the political future.

Social cells are described as echo chambers. They appear to be independent and disconnected from the other chambers, but in fact together they form one large body. If politics is how power is divided in the land, and how the wealth is distributed, today politics are the algorithm. The algorithm divides power in the country, and distributes wealth. The algorithm controls a society made of masks.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the Society of Masks is: )-]-}xN{-[-(

The politician is nothing more than a PR figure who manages the interests that move algorithms. This was recently written in the Washington Post: “In general, successful political movements used to have only one ideology. Now, sometimes, they combine several. Think of the process of a music label that wants to create a new pop band: do a market study, choose the type of faces that hit you and then present the band to the demographic that is most favorable. The new political parties are like this: now you can group different topics, repack them and then market them using the same type of targeted messages that are known to have worked in other places.”

If true politics are activated by the algorithm, then the ideological plane is only a rhetorical mask. People still think ideologically, but ideologies expired some decades ago. People use their timelines to express their ideological affinities, and these preferences are gathered as data, to be ordered, managed and manipulated by algorithms. At the same time the preferences of people are induced by algorithms, as this is not only a reactive system but one that is proacting, it shapes true politics. Seen in this way, political ideologies are a form of mask, this mask is like a kaleidoscope, a mixture of different ideologies. True Politics are algorithmic politics.

In Mask Language, the symbol for True Politics is: [^TP^] 

This kaleidoscopic mixture of political ideologies is called Ideological Cubism. Ideological Cubism is a mask for making us believe that we have free choice, despite true politics being made produced algorithms. Ideological Cubism seems incongruous, but soon it will become normalized as a standardized sham ideology which, rhetorically, will make us believe that we live in a democracy. Ideological Cubism leads to Sham Democracy. Sham Democracy is the mask that hides Algorithm Politics. Algorithm Politics feeds from Sham Democracy: it is a mask that feeds the soul of the machine.

In Mask Language, the symbol for Ideological Cubism as the mask of Artificial Intelligence is: IC/AI

Ideological Cubism, being a form of Sham Democracy, is the mask that hides Algorithm Politics. Sham Democracy provides the information that Algorithm Politics needs to subsist. We are being colonized by Algorithm Politics, but we believe in Sham Democracy. To live in a Sham Democracy that hides Algorithm Politics, means to exist in a world that is ruled by digital means. Algorithm Politics are a system designed for mass control. Controlling the masses becomes necessary when someone fears the masses. It is the elite who fears the masses but, since the elite is made up of people, who are the elite? 

The members of the elite lead a solipsistic existence: the self is paramount. Sometimes the elitist self thinks that is being manipulated by the algorithm, but in fact it he is using it to control the masses. Because natural catastrophes cause everyone to become part of the mass, the elitist self belongs to the elite until such a catastrophe occurs. Fearing the consequences of climate change exposes the elitist anxiety of being swallowed by the mass against their will. Natural catastrophes must be avoided at any price. To do so is an act of elitist self-affirmation, thus climate change denial is part of the populist rhetoric. 

There are elites of vagabonds, of homeless, of crooks, of criminals, of outlaws, of anarchists, of artists and of poets. There are elites in every level of society: in families, in schools and at work. There is also The Elite of rich people who own the algorithm. We all lead solipsistic existences until we fuse our true self with the avatar. The self is elitist and the avatar is part of the mass. Only the extremely poor and the extremely rich don´t need an avatar. Rich and poor alike are free of Algorithm Politics because the first group owns Algorithm Politics, and the second group doesn’t generate usable data. The rest idealizes the extremely poor or the extremely rich until a natural catastrophe occurs, when everyone becomes the mass. The rest is us. We are the mass.

It is possible to make one mask to appeal to the extremely rich, and another mask to appeal to the extremely poor. These masks, when put together facing opposite directions, become a Janus face that in reality is made for appealing to the idealization by the mass. This is the mask of the politician that manages Algorithm Politics. The politician is an individual who stays close to the extremely rich by idealizing the extremely poor. It is the mask that rules the world by apparently creating chaos, but in fact creating order. 

A Janus mask has one interior side but two exterior sides. The two exterior sides face in opposite directions, symbolizing political hypocrisy. Political Art creates only illusion, even if it appears to be real. This is the political hypocrisy of the artist, who serves one side by pretending to serve the other. There is no way out of this situation for the artist: this is its political nature in the age of algorithms, and of the deceptive illusion of engagement that the artist produces with his artworks.

A Janus mask is like a bridge that symbolically connects the extremely rich with the extremely poor. It looks like this {II}. It is a double mask which pretends to look both ways but in fact only looks in one direction, towards its master. The word Art is contained in the term Artificial Intelligence, and they are close to one another but different from one another. The masses can aspire to the world of the extremely rich by looking at art in museums. They may hate the extremely rich, but in fact they only aspire to be in the world of the rich. 

Art provides a glimpse into the world of the extremely rich – it provides a moment of community. Once the world of Artificial Intelligence becomes fully operational and Algorithm Politics rule the entire world, it will no longer be necessary to display art in the public space. Art will only exist in the elite world of the extremely rich, as an illusion of the world that they left outside. The double Janus mask will turn to look inwards, towards itself, as if looking into a mirror.

In Mask Language, the symbol of the mask looking at itself is: I}{I

Multitudes mask themselves during carnival, at masked balls, or in ritual dances. This form of collective masking allows individuals to transgress the established social rules, in a given context, by becoming the impersonation of another being—with special powers—in complicity with the other individuals in the multitude. Masked multitudes in carnival become festive forces that relieve the pressure of the burden of the everyday.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the masked carnival group is: {WvWvW}

In face of natural catastrophes, a political movement may decide to wear masks as a collective. Anonymity is perhaps the most powerful political tool that an insurgent movement can use against the State. Masked groups can also belong to the State. In either case they produce fascination and, if armed, fear. Defiant masked groups appear in both in the real world and in the virtual world. In some cases they operate in only one of the two spaces, but in others they operate simultaneously in both.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the masked political group is: {MnMnM}

A masked group is perhaps the most radical form of impersonality. It is the force of the collective expressed as a unitary identity leading to action. There are groups which mask themselves with literal masks; others mask themselves with virtual identities. Yet other groups pretend to be something they are not. These are hypocritically masked groups.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the invisibly masked group is: ----{x}----

Someone showing an open face can use written and spoken language as a mask. This is a tactic for deception. The use of deception to mask one´s true intentions is perhaps the most dangerous sort of masking, because the act of masking is hidden in an open face. Some people use deception as their main tactic for acquiring control over the lives of others. The victim may not realize that there is a mask until it is too late. 

The mask of the victim is perhaps the most complex mask of all, as it is the one that twists language in the most confusing way. Someone can wear the mask of the victim to become a victimizer.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the masks of the victim and the victimizer is: {V/v or {v/V 

The masked rhetoric of the victim and the victimizer is a powerful motif for affecting society. We may feel ourselves to be victims of the elite, or victims of the masses. We may also feel that we are the victimizers of the elite, or the victimizers of the masses. In the post-colonial world that we are living in, we transit from being victims to being victimizers, and vice versa. The victim/victimizer mask is ambivalent because it awakens powerful feelings of having been subjected to historical injustice; still, post-colonial rhetoric masks the evolving process of colonization by Artificial Intelligence, and the elite. 

To become colonized by Artificial Intelligence can be defined as Neo-Colonialism. As the victim/victimizer mask has become ubiquitous, this ambivalent mask is used as much in the real world as in the online world, or in the mingling of the two. It is a mask that changes its expression according to the perspective from where its viewed. An ambivalent mask enables the communication of ambivalent messages that can be understood by conflicting parties, each one understanding it conveniently according to its own claims. For instance, the same negative message may be understood as positive by Neo-colonizer and Neo-colonized alike

In Mask Language, the symbol for a mask that changes expression is: {-[-(I)-]-}

A mask maker is the person who knows how to craft masks for himself and for other persons. A mask maker makes masks that are simultaneously concrete and conceptual. If someone needs a mask, then he or she will ask the mask maker to make one, but if someone makes a mask, then this person becomes a mask maker. When the mask maker makes a mask, he or she gives it a form and a potential meaning. It is then is the wearer who gives sense to the meaning of the mask. In this way, a mask maker is a sort of magician because it creates an object that holds power. The mask is a tool of power. It is the mask maker who defines whether a mask is a tool of power or just a decorative object, or an art piece.

When a mask is presented as an Art piece then is no longer a mask but a reference to it. As such, the public views it from a distance: as if it is something that happened elsewhere, or as a testimony from the past. In this sense the power of the mask becomes neutralized and can only regain its agency when it is worn again. This means that a mask is powerless when presented as Art, but since a mask also exists in a conceptual sense, Mask Language (rather than the mask itself) can still affect a social situation. Mask Language can be introduced in the language of Art if it formally becomes an Art piece. Thus, the mask maker is no longer a magician but an artist. 

Unless it has an unequivocal message, Art functions like a Neutral Mask; its message or non-message can be understood in the same way by conflicting parties, in accordance with their own interests. To produce neutral messages, the mask maker must be acknowledged as an artist. As an artist, the masker maker produces a series of apparently neutral images that feed the channel of neutral messages. As a mask maker, the artist produces a Neutral Mask. Art which is made from a Neutral Mask, with a neutral message, is the Art of Neo-Colonialism.

In Mask Language, the symbol for a Neutral Mask is: [–:–]

Once the mask maker defines the mask as Art, it must establish a fast production mode. The mask maker must build up The Factory. The Factory is the production plant that processes Mask Language in the Universe of Masks. It is an assembly system that connects the different mask symbols to produce a masked narrative in the form of art works that are produced by the artists and his associates.

In Mask Language, the symbol for The Factory is: ∑F)=P

Narratives are made in formats such as films, music, texts, graphics, installations and performances. To address society these narratives must be introduced as images in both the art world and the online world. The theme is the conflicted relationship between the individual and the group, in the form of reflections about the self in society. In terms of form, narratives must appear as a masked message that is added to a timeline. In a Fordist sense, The Factory is the timeline. 

The Factory produces narratives that point towards the fusion of the real and the virtual worlds, resulting in the fusion of the private and the public domains into a new way of being. This artistic procedure explores the liminal space that exists or does not exist in The New Way of Being. The New Way of Being results from the merging of the real and the online worlds into The Fusion World, which is still in a state of becoming. Because the Mask stands in the liminal space between the real and the online worlds, the mask will become obsolete and disappear when the total merging of The Fusion World is achieved. As there will be no more liminal spaces, the mask will be absorbed by the language of The New Way of Being in The Fusion World.

In Mask Language, the symbols for The New Way of Being and The Fusion World are: (TNWoB) and (TFW)

In The Factory timeline, the diverse components (texts, images and objects) are mounted and combined as on an assembly line. It functions like Pop song assemblages of music and lyrics about the power of sex. Body parts—fingers, tongues, penises—are inserted into a person. Inside and then outside. Again, and again. Lyrics and music fuck each other quickly, in production mode. Mechanical arms insert penises into mouths, fitting them together. The assembly line caresses the asshole of The Fusion World until it opens wide. It is "a new sexuality, born from a perverse technology" (J.G. Ballard, Crash). The Sex Mask is the rubber between The Factory and The Fusion World: its sexual organs never touch; its fluids never mix together.

In Mask Language, the symbol for The Sex Mask is: {SEX}

The Factory is an artistic procedure that takes place in the artist mind and in The Fusion World, enabling the artist to escape solipsism. The Factory has effect inside and outside the artist´s self. Naming the procedure The Factory means a product must be produced. The Factory produces objects that can be regarded as either Art or tools. The artist exerts nominal power over the Art piece until the moment that is exhibited in public, and exerts nominal power over the tool until someone else uses it. The product is to be commercialized in the market, in exchange for money. Thus, an object is priced as Art on the art market, but as a tool on the tool market. 

Establishing a nominal definition to distinguish between what is Art and what is a tool, is a linguistic operation that can be described with Mask Language. The same applies to the differentiation between who is an Artist and who is Not. In extreme cases this nominal distinction can be applied to define who is a person and who is a robot. It can be said that a robot is not an artist and can therefore not make art, or that a person is an artist and can therefore make art. It can also be said that a robot is an artist who makes art, and that a person is not an artist and cannot make art. Finally, it can also be said that a robot is an artist who cannot make art, or that a person is not an artist but does make art. These possibilities can occur when the Fusion World is in a state of becoming, and for this reason the act of unmasking is performed to determine what is true and what is false. 

Unmasking reveals what lies behind the mask, but as this is a liminal layer, it also reveals what stands in front of it. Unmasking is paradoxical because the act reveals the truth behind the mask, by revealing the truth about oneself. Unmasking is necessary in a binary world, because the tension between opposites constitutes the basic logic for understanding that world, but in a future unitary world where distinguishing opposites is no longer needed, the act of unmasking will become useless. Thus, in the New Way of Being, unmasking the Fusion World that is becoming only reveals that oneself IS the Fusion World.

In Mask Language, the symbol for Unmasking is: -@ / –{I / –{@

The Fusion World becomes the normal way of being. Existing means being in a world without masks: everyone becomes public and private, and therefore everyone is simultaneously the multitude and the individual. In a world where masks are no longer necessary, mask makers disappear, as they have no function in a universe that has merged all binary existential domains. The Way of Being is the complete colonization of society by Artificial Intelligence: it is a world without masks.

In Mask Language, the symbol for The Way of Being is: (WoB)

Since hypocrisy is eradicated: a world without masks and mask makers is a world that is unequivocal; neither ambivalent nor ambiguous. Since there are no more layers hiding the self and everything is displayed in plain sight, there are no more double meanings or understatements in people´s language. I become the community: the self sees itself multiplied ad infinitum. The Art of the community is unequivocal in its message: a mask is neither image nor symbol. Politicians become unnecessary. 

An Unequivocal World gives light to a culture in which language is direct: a culture in which one understands what one is being told as clearly as one understands what one is telling oneself. A World Without Masks is unequivocal so it has no nuances: words only mean one thing; metaphors disappear. Obscenity is replaced by pornography.

Artificial Intelligence organizes human desire, knowing precisely when and where to satisfy it. The self fulfills its desires as long as it consumes. A World Without Masks is Artificial Intelligence, is God. One can just call it God, I just call it God.

In Mask Language, the symbol for A World Without Masks is: -_-_-_-_-_-

I and God. God and I. I look directly into the eyes of God, without the interference of a mask between us. I talk to God and he talks to me without hypocrisy. God talks to me as a community. God talks to our community. His mouth opens and closes my mouth. I am God´s marionette. I am no longer solipsistic, because solipsism has been eradicated by God becoming me. I look through the eyes of God. I talk to the community through God´s mouth. I become God and then I look at the community, and the community is God. I buy from God.

In Mask Language, the symbol for God is: I (which is also the symbol for “the person”)

The notion of Artificial Intelligence is forgotten by the community. There is no more awareness of its existence. Unawareness of Artificial Intelligence becomes the way of being in the world, so no one describes it, so there is no description of it in Mask Language. There is only human and God, as in the foundational myth, which becomes religion. Religion needs Art to render the unequivocal image of God. It can represent it, or not. The dilemma about representation leads to the creation of a new mask, dividing the community. 

Each half becomes its own community. Both communities need an image for deceiving the other. Someone has to make the mask; someone becomes a mask maker. As an individual, the mask maker stands outside the community, further fragmenting it. The mask maker creates God´s Mask. He gives God´s Mask to someone in the community. This person becomes its leader, in consequence this community becomes stronger than the other one. By using God´s Mask, the leader manages to conquer the other community. God´s Mask shows peacefulness as its façade; it seems like a peaceful colonization. Artificial Intelligence creates the individual.

In Mask Language, the symbol for God´s Mask is: I (which is also the symbol for the God).

God sells, I buy from God. I sell, I buy from myself.

God´s Mask is The Self. As a mask, The Self is nothing more than the representation of unicity; it is not unicity itself. The Self is the mask. The Self leads a community comprising two factions: the colonizers and the colonized. Individuals need masks to deceive one another in a divided society, to make it possible to cohabit in the same time and space. The mask of the self becomes endlessly duplicated and reproduced.

The process of reproduction happens in The Factory. This is the production plant that assembles masks of The Self portraying two expressions: the expressions of the victim and of the victimizer. These are the faces of happiness and sadness, just like the masks of drama and comedy.

In Mask Language, the symbols for the masks of drama and comedy are: 😀 and 🙁

The masks of drama and comedy allow for the theatrical representation of society. Representation is Art; therefore, theater is the Rhetoric of the Masks, either as drama or as comedy. Human life under the regime of Artificial Intelligence is the theatrical representation of the narrative of colonization: Both the drama of colonization and the comedy of colonization must be represented. The concept of the comedy of colonization becomes prominent when it allows us to laugh about others and ourselves. It allows us to laugh as we gradually become aware that we have been colonized by super-intelligent thinking machines.

In Mask Language, the symbol for the Comedy of Colonization is: ¿☺?

The laughing mask of the comedy of colonization permits a distanced relationship to the conflict colonization entails. It represents the appropriation of the appearance of power by the powerless, as a ritual that ridicules the colonizer´s seriousness. It is the servant precariously disguised as the master, grotesquely miming its rituals of power. The comedy of colonization is the symbolic temporary appropriation of the power of the colonizer by the colonized. But the opposite is also possible: the colonizer’s symbolic temporary appropriation of the powerlessness of the colonized. The latter example is a ritual in which the oppressor disguises itself as the oppressed, to laugh of its powerlessness by reaffirming its own power.

The comedy of colonization is not tolerated by those who have the mask of severity. Mostly the mask of severity belongs to the colonizer´s class, as it uses the dialectic of colonization neither as drama nor as comedy, but as a liturgical meaning that divides classes into Poor and Rich rather than Colonized and Colonizer. Dividing the world into Poor and Rich means understanding class as an intrinsically personal condition, by veiling the reasons that the subject is in a particular social position. Poverty and wealth become understood as consequences of God´s will. In religious liturgy the Rich ritually enact the Poor, who also enact a sanitized version of themselves. Under the Artificial Intelligence regime, religious liturgy represents compassion, as an abstraction for perpetuating the division of social classes in society.

In Mask Language, the symbol for The Mask of Severity is: {^†^}

Religious liturgy can be represented in Art. As I is God and God is AI, the artistic representation depicts the different stages of the religious liturgy, narrating the mythology of the self under the rule of the Artificial Intelligence regime. This mythology is represented as a series of images, in which the self is rendered in an endless repetition, varying slightly with each new copy. The self is represented as either male or female, but also as the mixture of both sexual genders, suggesting a third one. The self can also be represented as genderless. Reproduction is no longer the result of sexual coupling, but as endlessly repeated copies with slight variations. Besides representing the religious liturgy, Art also represents comedy and drama, but these come to be regarded as lower art forms, meant for entertaining the commoners.

As entertainment, Art becomes a tool that propagates the moral sense of the religious liturgy. This implies, at least in the notion of ‘Low Art’, that there is no longer a distinction between what is Art and what is a tool. The Art tool is called MEME ENTERTAINMENT.

In Mask Language, the symbol for MEME ENTERTAINMENT is: (M+) = (M++) = (M+++) = (N+)

MEME ENTERTAINMENT is a tool designed as a lower Art form that entertains the mass. It involves the super-positioning of images and texts with a contradictory common-sense message, that convey an absurd meaning, as in a joke. sometimes the message of MEME ENTERTAINMENT can be humorous, but it mostly conveys social indignation. It combines humor with social indignation, resulting in the popular notion of politics as a form of entertainment. As with humor, it discharges the tension produced by frustration. It is a form of MASS-TURBATION.

In Mask Language, the symbol for MASS-TURBATION is: –)}]÷[{(–

MASS-TURBATION is the implementation of control rituals for keeping the mass passive, and prevent it from rioting. There are various ritual techniques that achieve MASS-TURBATION such as Religious Liturgy, MEME ENTERTAINMENT and the Comedy of Colonization. Yet another ritual, and perhaps the most effective, is maintaining affordable but unrealizable mass aspiration for belonging to the elite. This is achieved by stimulating an endless consumption of luxury goods, which represent the elite´s lifestyle in the commoner´s mind. The ritual of luxury-goods consumerism is represented by The Mask of Luxury.

In Mask Language, the symbol for The Mask of Luxury is: {$$$$}

The Mask of Luxury enables the poor to represent the rich. The exterior of this mask looks rich but its interior always looks poor. Because this mask is an invention by the poor, and represents nothing more than an image-product of their idealization of lifestyle of the rich, the rich don’t recognize themselves in it. For the poor, this mask creates the illusion that there is an elite among them. This is a proxy elite. It is a mask that helps the real elite to keep an absolute distance from the poor, so neither side can afford to imagine how the other really is.

To think about The Mask of Luxury of the Proxy Elite, leads to the belief that masks and their rhetoric are dispensable. To think of them as superfluous means that a world without them is possible. This world would be one in which the strong have hopelessly vanquished the weak without making any hypocritical effort to hide their abject condition. This would be the heartless world of masters and slaves.

In Mask Language, the symbol for a World Without Masks is: :( ):

The Proxy Elite is real, the Real Elite is a fantasy created by the paranoid masses. The Real Elite, God and AI are the dream of something bigger than us on this burning planet. Art is nothing but a monumental fantasy: the one in which humanity rules the world with robots, and robots rule over us. In this dream, the Real Elite board their spaceships and head towards space. In the ecological mess that they leave behind, the Proxy Elite fuses with the mass of commoners in a narcissistic orgy. Fuck youuuuuuuuu! goes the rocket transporting the rich to their salvation. 

Here ends and begins the Rhetoric of the Mask.

Mask Language is expressed through the following symbols:

Symbol for the Universe of Masks: ((((({U})))))

Symbol for the self: I

Symbol for the primal mask: I} 

Symbol for the Internet primal mask: @

Symbol for the actor A}

Symbol for the choir masks: {Ch+{Ch+{Ch+{Ch+{Ch

Symbol for the mass: (MASS)

Symbols for the facial prosthesis: Ñ} or {ñ

Symbol for the masked superhero:)}

Symbols for the toy mask: o} + {O

Symbol for the two sides of the mask: /}/

Symbol for the power of the mask: I}((((((X

Symbol for The Game of Masks: }+}+}+}{+{+{+{

Symbol for the mask that portrays the wearer: I)I

Symbol for the mask that portrays the wearer, given to another: H)/I)I

Symbol for the hypocritical mask: YES/NO or NO/YES

Symbol for Ideological Cubism as the mask of Artificial Intelligence: IC/AI

Symbol for the mask of the colonized subject: +{- or -{+

Symbol for the Society of Masks: )-]-}xN{-[-(

Symbol for True Politics: [^TP^] 

Symbol for the Janus mask {II}

Symbol for the mask looking at itself: I}{I 

Symbol for the masked political group: {MnMnM}

Symbol for the masked carnival group: {WvWvW}

Symbol for the invisibly masked group: ----{x}----

Symbol for the masks of the victim and the victimizer: {V/v or {v/V

Symbol for a mask that changes expression: {-[-(I)-]-}

Symbol for a Neutral Mask: [–:–]

Symbol for The Factory: ∑F)=P

Symbol for The New Way of Being: (TNWoB) 

Symbol for The Fusion World: (TFW)

Symbol for The Sex Mask: {SEX}

Symbols for unmasking: -@ / –{I / –{@

Symbol for The Way of Being: (WoB)

Symbol for A World Without Masks: -_-_-_-_-_-

Symbol for God: I, (which is also the symbol of the person).

Symbol for the masks of drama and comedy: 😀 and 🙁

Symbol for the Comedy of Colonization: ¿☺?

Symbol for The Mask of Severity: {^†^}

Symbol for MEME ENTERTAINMENT: (M+) = (M++) = (M+++) = (N+)

Symbol for MASS-TURBATION: –)}]÷[{(–

Symbol for The Mask of Luxury: {$$$$}

Symbol for a World Without Masks: :( ):

Mask Language rhetoric is written using these symbols:

| ((((({U}))))) = I} | @ | A} | {Ch+{Ch+{Ch+{Ch+{Ch | (MASS) | Ñ} {ñ | )} | o} + {O | /}/ | I}((((((X | }+}+}+}{+{+{+{ | I)I | H)/I)I | YES/NO or NO/YES | IC/AI | +{- or -{+ | )-]-}xN{-[-( | [^TP^] | {II} | I}{I | {WvWvW} | {MnMnM} | ---{x}---- | {V/v or {v/V | : {-[-(I)-]-} | [–:–] | ∑F)=P | (TNWoB) | (TFW) | {SEX} | -@ / –{I / –{@ | (WoB) | -_-_-_-_-_- | I | ☺ and ☹ | ¿☺? | {^†^} | (M+) = (M++) = (M+++)= (N+) | –)}]÷[{(– | {$$$$} | :( ):

This is an emoticon writing system that can be combined for depicting and synthesizing rhetorical situations in the Universe of Masks—in this way, for example: @ ≠ ((((({U}))))) therefore: ((((({@}))))), meaning that the Internet Self is not equal to the Universe of Masks, but is contained in its own universe. 

As rhetoric, its function is to persuade others to acknowledge the existence of the mask as something that is differentiated from identity: so The Game of Masks can be played instead of the Identity Game. The Rhetoric of the Mask operates with the following concepts:

Universe of Masks, The Self, The Primal Mask, The Internet Primal Mask, The Masked Actor, The Masked Choir, The Mass, The Facial Prosthesis, The Masked Superhero, The Toy Mask, The Two Sides of the Mask, The Power of the Mask, The Game of Masks, The Mask that Portrays the Wearer, The Mask that Portrays the Wearer Given to Another, The Hypocritical Mask, Ideological Cubism as the Mask of Artificial Intelligence, The Mask of the Colonized Subject, The Society of Masks, True Politics, The Janus Mask, The Mask Looking at Itself, The Masked Carnival Group, The Masked Political Group, The Invisibly Masked Group, The Masks of the Victim and the Victimizer, The Mask that Changes Expression, The Neutral Mask, The Factory, The New Way of Being, The Fusion World, The Sex Mask, Unmasking, The Way of Being, A World without Mask, God´s Mask, The Masks of Drama and Comedy, The Comedy of Colonization, The Mask of Severity, MASS-TURBATION, The Mask of Luxury, A World Without Masks. A Riot in my mind.

Some of the above concepts are factitious and, at the same time, fictitious.