A transformation was wrought on him during the first year of his time in public office. The party’s public relations team thought he needed to undergo training for his appearances in front of the camera. Not ‘media training’ as such, since he managed interviews very well, but rather—since ‘his face gave him away’—what could be called FACE TRAINING. This, thought the Chief Communications Officer, was necessary not for television appearances, but for still photography. The journalists and their public were, of course, labouring under an illusion that the still image, a face ‘caught’ in an instant, could express anything at all. Such a face gave nothing away except illusion. Faces expressed only through their movements—through language and ‘visual gesture’.
According to Brecht, the earliest film surfaces, by being less sensitive to light, would more perfectly capture a face than the more instantaneous ones. Their longer exposure times would result in ‘multiple expressions’, ‘a livelier and more universal expression’. ‘The newer devices no longer work to compose the faces—but must faces be composed? Perhaps for these devices there is a photographic method which would DECOMPOSE FACES. But we can be quite sure of never finding this possibility realised... without first having a new function for such photography’ (quoted in Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Cambridge MA and London: Belknap/Harvard 2002) Y8,1).
Those slices of time produced exact data sets relating to the arrangement of a face—data sets that, though exact, were nonetheless false in relation to that face.
Was it possible to transform a face so that it more exactly composed itself in an instant? This might mean permanently living with the superposition of multiple faces—with expressive movement reduced to its bare data and rewritten into instantaneous poise. This proved to be impossible. Instead, the strategy they adopted was for him to live in the awareness of FACIAL DATA. This meant presenting a surface of illusion, playing along as it were with the journalists’ mistake. After some time he was never caught again with his face in a compromising frown. It was, by now, a familiar enough procedure. The mask was not a lie developed to cover up the truth, but the creation of a new way of being.