The following is a short breakdown of the visuals used in the project.

The idea that ended up ultimately forming the content was the duality of alt-right’s public-facing facade. Far-right movements have a habit of masquerading their views behind vague, excessively traditionalistic but ultimately presentable values like ‘family’, ‘nation’ or ‘identity’. The modern fascists hide behind internet mascots and faux irony, continually gaslighting the ‘normies’ by appealing to liberal values like free speech – values otherwise meaningless to fascists but ones that serve as a useful red herring that helps distort the conversation in ways the extremists see fit.
The project aims to reflect this masquerade, using the metafor of proximity to hint at the idea of understanding – the closer the viewer gets to the visual, the more apparent their hidden message becomes.

This is also meant as a reflection on the difficulty of confronting extremist views and the desensitisation that occurs when one is exposed to far-right ideologies for too long. It is a reflection of my own mental state at the end of the research process, using the Lovecraftean idea of conflating knowledge with insanity. The different states that the images go through based on the viewer’s proximity aim to show an extreme contrast between the palatable public-facing red herring and the real ideology hiding behind it.

The project initially displays a number of appealing, inoccuous images. A distance sensor is then used to map out how close the viewer is to the installation, changing the image in small increments based on their proximity. There are two stages to this change; initially, the image distorts and clippings from far-right news sites start appearing. The image then opens up to give space to a different visual, displaying an aspect of alt-right’s ideology that is unequivocally unacceptable.
The images are intended to be unsettling, disquieting, shocking. The shock value does not exist fot its own sake, it communicates the intended message by attempting to cause discomfort and confusion to the viewer.

That being said, this aspect is inherently problematic and reconciling the need for an effective visual with attempting to not accidentally promote the ideologies I am trying to criticise is difficult. The first iteration included a picture of Pepe the Frog, though it was pointed out to me that using fascist propaganda directly could be easily misinterpreted.
A small collection of four sets of visuals was created for this purpose, each with an underlying theme and a topic. Some feature allusions to memes and propaganda while others reflect the nebulous values promoted by the alt-right.

The images that form the starting points of visuals are stock photos collected from Unsplash. The end points are journalistic photographs documenting real events.

 

Stock Photographer: Janko Ferlic

End Point: Golden Dawn nationalist march in Greece

The idea of a child being used for neo-nazi propaganda is one I have talked about in the thesis. It ties into the 14 words mantra and hints at a paranoia regarding the so-called ‘white genocide’ conspiracy. The idea that white children will be outbred by immigrants and people of colour is one that is central to the white supremacist worldview.

 

Stock Photographer: Vladimir Tsokalo

End Point: Charlottesville Rally, Virginia

Misogyny is omnipresent in alt-right circles. The movement included within itself ‘the manosphere’, a strange amalgamate of men’s rights activists, anti-feminists and pick-up artists. The fetishisation of white women is quite apparent in white nationalist circles, as it is impossible to disassociate the hysteria about white people being outbred by immigrants from a fiercely traditionalist view of gender roles and extreme objectification.

 

Stock Photographer: Bence Boros

End Point: Nigel Farage in front of the ‘Breaking Point’ poster.

History and identity are often put forward by the alt-right as core values. Fascists often blame their sense of disenfranchisement on a lack of identity – or rather on being denied their own racial identity when ‘everyone else’ seems to have one. The argument they put forward is tied to the idea of white ancestry – nordes and the roman empire are often used. The Roman Empire reference was also a central tenant of Mussolini’s party in the 1930’s.

Stock Photographer: Trevor Cole

End Point: Vehicle attack in Charlottesville that killed one person

The frog is a reference to Pepe the frog, a viral image macro now recognised as a hate symbol. The use of memes are representative of the alt-right’s strategy of gaslighting its opponents through dark humour and faux irony.