Ted Hiebert & Jin-Kyu Jung
Tinfoil Hats is a visual response project, inspired by Julian Huxley's 1927 story "The Tissue King," in which he wrote about a machine designed for mass telepathy, built as an experimental mind control apparatus to help control a growing population. To protect themselves from the radiating influence of the telepathic broadcast, the inventors of the machine wore aluminum hats, specifically designed to protect their minds from the voice of the apparatus, and by extension from the prying gaze of algorithmic surveillance. The story has since been taken up by conspiracy theorists, psychologists and media scholars as an example of the possibilities and dangers of living in a technologically-mediated world.
While there is no certain way to reconcile the layers of conspiracy, spectacle and conjecture that surround the tinfoil hat as an apparatus and a metaphor, one way to keep the inquiry alive is to simply engage with the metaphor itself. This project invites participants to engage the story of the tinfoil hat in their own creative ways by making a tinfoil hat of their own, and taking a photograph of themselves as they imagine their heads in the proverbial cloud of surveillance culture.