March 25th, 2005

operesque

Employee of the month


Thogerson Hoy, bank official. "People are strange when you're a stranger," sang Jim Morrison. They're even stranger when you're scrolling around a 1051x1557 pixel employee photograph on a corporate website.


Michael Farrah, head of printers, peripherals, AV and displays. He's the head of peripherals, and this is the periphery of his head. I am in a lunar lander, slowly descending towards its surface. Scroll right! Scroll left! Survey the terrain! Shall I plant a national flag here, or a corporate logo?


Barry Atkinson, head of SMB sales. He's sideways. You approach him from the left across what looks like a blue-and-white checked tablecloth, then discover that his face is brown. Everyone in a suit and tie is a pragmatist and a puritan. Click the picture to explore!


Sarah Percy, head of marketing. Hyper-realism, Neue Sachlichkeit, the images they showed on Manhattan Cable TV after 9/11. The employee as missing person, the employee as dead person, the employee photograph as uncanny memorial, the smile fixed and frozen, grotesque and poignant in the newspaper. I've never had a job. I've never had to die for the company.


Jonathan Schwartz, unspecified computer executive. Hair is funny when you examine it close up, just like a word is strange when you repeat it one hundred times. The unheimlich, the uncanny, irony, detachment, alienation. Is it just a matter of getting too close or too far away? Is "normal" only normal at the appropriate viewing distance, under the appropriate lighting, from the appropriate angle? What a frail thing "normality" is, then!


Greg Stroud, unspecified computer executive. To the Japanese, we have a tall nose, round eyes, a red skin. Do we look like pigs? Are the pores of our skin too big? Do we have a distinctive smell, the smell of a foreigner? Can you smell us standing beside you on the train?


Øystein Thøgersen, bank employee. Rembrandt watched his own face decay in a mirror, painting it in a prolonged act of dispassionate scrutiny. Every photograph or mirror contains a bit of death alongside the pride, shame, embarrassment, surprise.


Vivi Lassen, bank employee. Do people frighten you? Do you have to master yourself when you speak to someone across a desk? Are old people more frightening than young people? Are people with jobs more frightening than people you meet randomly? Which is more scary, a stranger or a friend?


Michael R. Robertson, director, human resources. Have you heard of the photographer Thomas Ruff? Some of these employee pictures remind me of his work. What do the bodies of the disembodied look like? When someone has power, do I cease to see their body? Is it uncharitable to look closely at an employee's body? If you prick me, do I not bleed? I'm just looking, thanks.