"THE GUARDIAN" is a portrait photography edition that was originally part of my genesis collection, "TECHRUNNERS" but I decided that this photo was unique and deserved a stage by itself. I took this photo in 2019 before I had started building my own masks, and I had little money to invest in crafting props. Back then, I had a day job at Guitar Center and was driving between Beaumont and Houston, searching for neon signs that would emulate the cyberpunk aesthetic. In Houston, I often visit this fried rice restaurant downtown called "Rice Box." The environment feels futuristic, movies from the eighties and nineties would play on tv monitors by the bar, and fuschia neon signs illuminate the whole area. I'm so thankful for the management at Rice Box because they always allowed me to take photos in their restaurant, and without their support, this photo would not exist. When my model and friend Tram donned the mask and readied her sword, I felt as if she took on the role of some faceless guardian protecting either a person or an ideal. I like that her story is as vague as the mask she wears.
In 2016 I started playing a game called Life is Strange, where you play as a photography student in a fictional Pacific Northwest town. Her approach to photography was to take photos of things she found interesting. This simple concept gave me the desire to go out and photograph the world around me. For Christmas that year, my dad gave me a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic SLR camera and began taking photos with me as a bonding activity. Later in 2018, I started watching movies like Ghost in the Shell, Bladerunner, and Ex Machina. I was filled with so much inspiration from those movies and the philosophies that drive them that I wanted to go out and take photos of my cyberpunk world and build my props to make those photos feel as realistic as possible. While having a day job at Guitar Center and working on my bachelor's degree in marketing, I would take two to three days a week to drive from my humble small town of Beaumont Texas to the bustling industrial city of Houston. The grimy downtown streets at night filled my mind with images of a dark and glamorous future. I've been chasing after images of that cyberpunk world ever since.
Dylan Newton (Picklefig)
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