Construction and Deconstruction of the Anonymous mask

About the MA GDC

The MA in Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Arts encourages a broad and diverse approach to thinking and practice to shape engaging and imaginative design solutions through material, media, technologies and people. It encourages the students to develop a critical thinking and explore specific issues through innovative and unexplored territories.

It encourages to develop a critical thinking and explore specific issues through innovative and unexplored territories.


The Brief.

The brief asked to the students from the MA in graphic Design Communication to identify a situation, an everyday activity or a type of symbol, tradition from a community and reflect about it though a practice-led work. The objective of the work was “to learn the meaning and value of empathy in the context of design and 
To begin sensitizing to an empathetic design process through research and design.”


The topic.

I started my project by the research of the Internet world and different “wars” present on that world (Natalia Zuazo, 2015)[1]. I was really interested on generating a reflection about how Internet is affecting our lives and all what we still don´t know about that world. However, the topic was too big, so the recommendation from the tutor was delimit the topic to one specific issue. So I chose the Hacktivism issue.

“Hacktivism” is the result of the combination  the words “hack” and “activism”.  “Is the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda. With roots in hacker culture and hacker ethics, its ends are often related to the free speech, human rights, or freedom of information.”[2]And in this world, I chose a specific element that I found very interesting: the Anonymous mask.

Anonymous is one of the most largest and well-known Hacktivist organization in the world. As main symbol of identification they use the “Guy Fawkes mask”, made popular by the movie film V for Vendetta in 2006. So I decided I was going to use that specific symbol as principal element in my Project.

The project.

When I started my research about Anonymous and the organization, I realized that close to that date, the organization was going to celebrate their annual manifestation around the world (November 5th). Therefore, I decided that my project was going to be a reflection about the mask as symbol for that specific event. The question I made myself was “Should the mask evolve or should remain the same?”

The process.

The central idea for the project was to develop a process of construction and deconstruction of the mask as symbol and the documentation of that process through pictures and a final video. In order to achieve that, I proposed and identified different stages or   specific scenes that I found relevant for understanding the mask as symbol and looking to answer the previous question.

In order to achieve a proper photographic and video documentation of the project, I worked in the MA graphic design studio where set up everything what was necessary for the project. I started using an original plastic mask of Anonymous and fixed it to a static board. I photographed each step of the profess in order to get a final compilation of all the process.

Stage #01: Thoughts

Fort he first stage of the process of construction and deconstruction of the Anonymous mask, I decided to reflect all the thoughts I had about the organization on the mask.  I did it using different permanent markers. “Revolution”, “We are legion”, “FUCK FBI”, “One Million mask” were some of the phrases written on the mask. I asked also other students from the MA to contribute at this stage of the process. As result, one student from Japan for example, wrote some of those phrases in Japanese too.

impresions-01 copia

Stage #02: News and Media

For the second stage of the process, I decided to reflect what the newspapers and media industries say about this organization.  In order to do that, I used pieces of news from newspaper and attached them to the mask. All the news and images selected were related to the issue of Anonymous and Hacktivism.

impresions-02 copia


Stage #03: Facial Features

One of the most noticeable things about the Anonymous mark are their facial features. A black and thin mustache with a large chin, strong marked white smile-lines and black-curve eyebrows make that mask unique and easy to recognize. I decided to use some modeling material in order to start to loose that significant facial features. I applied it in different parts of the mask and at the end of the process the facial features changed radically. The shape of the nose, cheeks and chin changed in a way that anonymous mask was not recognizable anymore.

impresions-03 copia

Stage #04: One issue

At this stage of the process, I asked myself if for this specific event -“One Million Mask”, 5th November 2015-, the organization should protest for one specific problem. So I made the exercise of writing a hypothetical protest phrase abut one top con the mask. The chosen Word was “Refugees” in relation to the current immigration crisis in Europe.

impresions-04 copia

Stage #05:  The Final Mask

At the end of the process, I decided that It was a good exercise to “loose” the recognition of the mask, but at the same tame that what make this organization unique and recognizable around the world: the anonymous mask. So I decided to bring back the mask but without loosing all the process and work done before. I put a new mask over the old one. Therefore I painted it white to reflect the hope of this organization for world peace and when I sicked it to the original mask I leaved a hole in between so the observer can notice that there is something above that white mask.


Presentation of the project.

Fort he presentation of the project I selected a location in the studio room where I set up the final mask and exhibited some stills from the process on the wall. The tutor and students were invited to appreciate the mask and then to discover the process behind it though the pictures in the posters of each stage. At the end of the process there was a computer showing a video of all the process.





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