Oscar Wilde’s sentiment ‘give a man a mask and he will show you his true face’ suggests we may only be the truest, deepest, version of ourselves when we are either in character or incognito. From music artists (Bono, Bowie) to anonymous websites to Halloween parties, evidence shows that we may behave ‘out of character’ when our surroundings disguise our need to act in the way we believe we are known for.
Who would we be if there were no consequences?
Mirror-mask-wearing Bonnacons of Doom pose similar questions in a show designed to ask tough, identity-defining, questions. Who are we and how do we feel when we spend time looking at our own reflections?
Soundtracked by electronic experimentation, loud feedback, and repetitive drone, Doom’s show is emotive and sinister, creating a shocking atmosphere reminiscent of, say, Kubrick’s ‘Eyes wide shut’ or the who’s-behind-the-mask fear of Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’. This is not a show for the faint-hearted.
Face hidden, Doom are able to play the show in the style they wish, devoid of any social pressures, internal constraints or shyness that the ‘usual’, exposed, musician experiences. Almost rooted to the spot, the musicians remain relatively stationary, almost like the Kraftwerk robots in parts, creating a style which adds to the uncomfortableness of the show. This uncomforting situation is heightened through the reflective masks, a visual act which pivots the show and makes you unable to escape your own reflection, setting the performance up to ask questions about surveillance, intrusion and the usual crowd to performer relationship.
An unmasked frontwoman (identities are kept hidden) delivers the only mask-less face on stage. Part Kate Bush, part Macbeth witch, she draws most of the attention from the audience both for her extensive physicality, and vocal screeching, as well as understanding that to look at her, means you do not have to look at yourself.
Doom’s show is strikingly intense, presented to create a sinister, inhuman, end-of-the-world environment in which it tests our own moralities and self-perceptions. It makes radical statements both in its soundtrack and also in it’s questioning of societies’ obsession with voyeurism, esteem and self-presentation. It is also frighteningly loud.
If the mask lets us see our true face, then it also lets us see genuine creative originality.