Hiding in plain sight



Inspired by Hito Steryel’s

How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, 2013

Lesson IV: How to be Invisible by Disappearing: 13 ways

  • living in a gated community
  • living in a military zone
  • being in an airport, factory, or museum
  • owning an anti-paparazzo handbag
  • being fitted with an invisibility cloak
  • being a superhero
  • being female and over 50
  • surfing the dark web
  • being a dead pixel
  • being a Wi-Fi signal moving through human bodies
  • being undocumented or poor
  • being spam caught by a filter
  • being a disappeared person as an enemy of the state


Of particular interest to me was being a female and over 50… I have heard this before, but have not really experienced it myself so I was curious about this.  In our media-saturated urban environment, the beautiful and the youthful are given priority in our visual spaces.  In a culture that values individuality, standing out is important. I tend to not blend in visually especially among a group of women my own age.  I decided to explore how I could do this.  Using a concept from military  and counterintelligence tactics referred to as Gray Man Theory, I used the following strategies:

  • wear bland colours that have no distinctive colour, dull earth tones
  • do what other people are doing, blend in using body language and keep a pace that matches others around you
  • be medium
  • wear clothing that is not too stylish or distinctive, not too fitted but not overly baggy
  • low cost worn running shoes, they are quiet and non-distinctive logo
  • make as little noise as possible
  • do not wear strong scents
  • do not have funky hair
  • use body language that is passive, slouch slightly,
  • avoid all eye contact and do not speak
  • try to be average

Do not wear:

  • anything that glints or shines or draws the eye like jewelry or glasses
  • anything that dangles, like earbuds or purse
  • white or bright running shoes
  • any identifiable logos, they draw the eye


5 Gray Man Secrets



This project was an interesting thought experiment.  How to become unremarkable without it being a disguise…I had to change how I dress, how I walk, how a hold myself, how I engage with the world.  I essentially had to try to be someone else wearing my body.  I had to try and walk different, with less confidence, slouching without looking like I am sinking into the sidewalk.  Not making eye contact was particularly challenging.  I am not confrontational but as I come into contact with people I meet them eye to eye, mostly as a sign of respect, to say I see you, you are not invisible.  I wonder how many people do not get looked at and believe they are invisible and it has nothing to do with them at all.

With regard to aging and invisibility, I can see that younger people take up space differently, is this a cultural generational difference?   I learned that being an average middle aged person is out of my league.  I could probably rob a bank though, and no one would really be able to agree on what the perf looked like…average, average, average…so that was a success.