Welcome to the Machine

June 14, 2021

My life dramatically changed the day I became a dad. Obviously, as every parent, my day-to-day agenda has been adjusted significantly. But more fundamentally, my main goal in life has also evolved: when I was a kid, I wanted to please my parents, to get good marks at school, then later to obtain some diploma, then find a good job, then secure a house and live the happiest possible life with my wife. Now, with two little girls looking at me in the eyes, the new priority is to make sure *their* life is going to be as happy as possible.

This task is frightening me. I am completely unsure about how, or what to do, to reach that goal. Should I work as hard as possible, earn as much money as possible, so that they would benefit from it? Studies are surely not free... But then, what about spending much time with them, and learning them what I can? Should I give them much liberty, or protect them a lot from the external world? What about my wife, I surely must not forget about her in the process! Of course, the answer lies somewhere in-between these, but it is far from trivial to find the sweet spot.

Pink Floyd's song "Welcome to the Machine" is very cynical, and describes my feelings about the current society quite well. "What did you dream? It's alright, we told you what to dream". While this was written in 1975, it easily applies to 2021 as well. Marketing efforts are so strong these days, that thinking by yourself has become a great challenge. This is probably one of the key things I would want my little girls to understand. Giving them the intellectual tools, so that they can make measured choices, so that they can distinguish reality from shiny but fake words, seems as of a big importance. I hope our little family will be able to walk that path together in the next few years!

A few words regarding the technical aspects of this image:
- The industrial complex in the background is not that massive in reality: I took several photos of it, masked out some parts, put them in front of others, duplicated some chimneys, added several layers of buildings, etc. This construction help me with the overall mood.
- My eldest daughter and my wife posed for the main characters. We used old coffee beans jute bags, cut them very roughly, to create the clothes.
- The masks and various pipes were photographed separately, then added back in post-production. I had to do it this way, because the adult mask would not stay in place as needed, and the child mask was way too big. The editing step allowed me to custom-fit them both.
- Shooting the flying men required some thinking: since I couldn't fly despite my best efforts, I inverted the point of view. My wife took the camera, and shot me through a window from the top floor of the house, while I was lying on the ground in the garden downstairs. Once mirrored, the angle was satisfactory enough for the integration to work.
 

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