This piece proved a harder thing to realize that i thought. As with many things I create, it started as one idea and evolved or devolved into something else entirely. It was originally intended to be a companion piece to the previous one, "We Do What We're Told" - the idea being the "Teacher" in that one, struggling with his moral reservations about inflicting torture on the "Learner" would now follow the chord through his head and resolve and through into this one, depicting the Learner, based on the construct of the Milgram's experiment. I decided to try to depict all three elements of the experiment: The Experimenter (Absolute Authority), the Teacher, and the Learner, or the victim.

Two things made me abandon the idea: firstly, the real crux of the experiment is the Teacher, who is being asked to inflict pain on another by command from the Experimenter. The victim, or the Learner, in this case, is really a confederate of the Experimenter, and is not actually in pain - the idea is to measure the willingness to obey authority despite moral reservations. So, the victim is not really the victim in the context of the experiment. Secondly, an image conveying the Experimenter is not all that compelling or emotional, so that one was going to be utterly flatlined.

But the idea that grabbed me on depicting the experiment was Milgram's motivation for it in the first place: to make sense and understand how Hitler's regime could blindly follow his commands in regards to the horrors of the Holocaust - and in that case, the "learner' of the experiment was indeed the victim - the untold millions that perished in the camps. It is a topic I can hardly read about without getting depressed and sick to my stomach - how people can reduce others to cattle, or worse.

This is not to say that this final image is representative of the victims of the Holocaust. As I said, it evolved from there into something else. The general idea is the flow of ideas, taking a dark turn and reaching a dark conclusion, It's about the corrosive lure of beliefs despite their negative effects, the need to believe in something to fill the voids in life.

model: Zack Barnes

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