Pretty Little Masks Project

Project Focus: social commentary / people, society, beauty
Patrick’s Role: creator/facilitator
Genres of Involvement: digital media, music, public interaction

About the Project

The studio photographer has a unique moral problem today in that the level of perfection required by their job is nearly always an impossibility without using technology to manipulate photographs.

The imagery of Pretty Little Masks is a direct result of Patrick Lydon’s portrait photography commissions between 2007-2009, during which time he ran a commercial photography studio. The industry standard technique used to create this content involves digitally airbrushing on a “mask” in order to soften facial features, remove unsightly lines and blemishes. This technique creates the “perfect” skin on every model.

The “Masks” show works to expose the raw, eerie, and sometimes unsightly reality of our obsession with perfection.

The images of Pretty Little Masks are a simple statement of the process by which we create perfection. They contain only the airbrushed “mask” on a black background, in effect showing only what has been made perfect about these models.

The Music

During the exhibition, musicians turn the facial landscapes into soundscapes, evoking personal reflections and creating an environment that stimulates both visual and auditory senses.

During the first performance of this project, we worked with local professional Jazz musicians LeLeLe Tres in Japan. In the USA, Pretty Little Masks works with acclaimed Houston-based experimental woodwind quintet WindSync to perform a live improvised soundscape for each of the masks.

Through this process, the gallery space is filled with a complex and dynamic blanket of live sound using only the musicians’ reactions to the artwork, and conceptual notes from the artist.


During the show, audience members have the opportunity to ‘pose’ for a commercial portrait session and watch as their likeness used to demonstrate digital airbrushing techniques. Audience members who participate receive a printed copy of their own ‘Pretty Little Masks’ after the demonstration

Pretty Little Masks has been performed in…

2010 – Yokohama, Japan | BankART 1929 / CreativeCity Center

Pretty Little Masks show with Lelele Tres | Yokohama, Japan

2011 – San Jose, USA | ArtObject Gallery

Pretty Little Masks show with WindSync | San Jose, USA

2012 – Incheon, South Korea | Sanmaeul High School (abridged lecture)

Pretty Little Masks Lecture and Demonstration | Incheon, South Korea



One Reply to “Pretty Little Masks Project”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *