In a digital-first environment that has us spied on by our devices, tuned in with our appliances, and watched over by CCTV at every turn, what really remains sacred? Photographer Polly Brown explores the tightrope boundary between sharing and oversharing in her deadpan new photo-series, secrets_1. In it, she asks her loved ones to share their own secret passwords and logins – tiny fragments of words and thoughts that take the form of skeleton keys in a cyber universe. In a time when we are asked to disguise our privacy daily, which words or phrases do we choose to arm ourselves with, her playful collection of images asks? The online world is an ever-shifting and evolving one, and in it only these words, coded, case-sensitive, and consisting of both letters and numbers, are the keys.
Oddly poignant and emphatically revealing, these private phrases, playfully photographed, expose intimate fragments of her subjects – from “0superman” to “ahaha”. The project also takes the form of an artist’s zine (this is the digital world made physical, and it feels good!) printed in an edition of 100 and available via Brown’s website for just £4. Who knows, in years to come our great-grandchildren might pick it up and marvel at the touch of the paper.