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Palmission by Anthony Fregoso

Palmission is a series of photos of individuals’ hands. The photos were all taken in the same manner – with the subject kneeling against a wall, hands raised above their head. The photos highlight the ideas of identity, submission, and identification. While the project was originally focused on photos of hands, it developed to include a video component as well. The video shows the process behind capturing each of the photos, which is important as it gives the viewer a glimpse of the people whose hands are picture, as well as the position that they must get into to take the picture.

Taking so many photos has made it clear to me how important our hands are. For one, the notion that they are used as both an identifier and a keeper of information is crucial. When I say “keeper of information”, I mean that hands are used by people – such as palm readers – to determine information about a person’s future. This is determined by things such as lines, bumps, and grooves. While the legitimacy of this information is up for debate, I believe that it is crucial that hands are used in this context in the first place. Aside from being used in this context, hands are also used by the government and security forces to track individuals. The fingerprints of almost all citizens above 18 are on file, and are used in any sort of legal matter. In this way, the government has also legitimized the use of hands as an information source.

There is an interesting connection with the work of artist Jeremy Bailey. While much of Bailey’s work includes modifying the body with technology, I believe his perspective on the body and the internet is more important. Bailey is very interested in “performance for the camera”. While my project may not seem like any form of “performance”, I see it from a quite different perspective. I would argue that when someone is willing to take a photo, and gets down in front of the camera, they are performing. In this way, each of the participants and each of the photos come together to form a full performance.

While working with the body is one connection to internet art, hands in particular also connect to surveillance. As previously mentioned, their use by the government as a way to track individuals ties into the idea of surveillance. In the article “If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy” by Walter Kirn, he discusses the potential dangers of the internet, along with the connections made by technology. Considering the fact that all of our fingerprints are linked in an online database, I wonder if they will begin to be used in new ways. Apple uses fingerprints to allow users to unlock their phones, and credit card companies are now creating cards that are fingerprint activated. However, each of these fingerprints are stored somewhere, and will they become more useful to companies and hackers in the future?