Unmasking Cyber Violence: Banality of Evil Photography Series by Xiaohan Lu

When Hannah Arendt first discussed ‘Banality of Evil’ in his book in 1963, she concluded her case study of Adolph Eichmann, a Nazi operative responsible for organizing concentration camps, as ‘neither perverted nor sadistic’, but ‘terrifyingly normal’. In other words, performing evil deeds without having evil intentions can still lead to irretrievable tragedies. 

“People fail to realize how traumatizing some of their behaviors are. They are disconnected from the reality of what they are doing for their thoughtlessness and are thus unable to develop the cognition that they are doing the wrong thing. That’s what I want to remind people of,”  said Xiaohan Lu, the realist photographer. 

According to Lu, cyber violence is one of the disadvantages resulting from the popularity of the Internet and can be just as damaging as physical violence, even though many of those actions are not intention-driven but a manifestation of blindly following their circumstances.

(Longteng Models, Banality of Evil by Xiaohan Lu)

Lu generated a scenario in which a group of people are trying to bully another individual in the shootings for Banality of Evil. The identity of the bullier is built through a crazily wild hairstyle and makeup with no facial expression, reflecting the unconsciousness of their behaviors. The victim is, however, covered in black fabric that indicates anyone could become the object to the bullies. 

At the same time, Lu used different scene setups to strengthen the identity of the characters. She created a scene where all the characters are sitting on the same table and eating noodles, the texture of which represents the tension that’s stretching between the bulliers and the bulliee.

(Longteng Models, Banality of Evil by Xiaohan Lu)

“I got this inspiration from a scene in a movie that I saw, where an employee was eating a burger in front of his computer but the ketchup dripped on his keyboard,” Lu explained, “The fact that the employee did not pay attention to it reminded me of how those online trolls type mean comments with their keyboards without even thinking about it.”

The models were instructed to gaze into the camera——the cold-eyed stare was designed to caution viewers to think before taking any actions because anyone can quickly become either the perpetrator or victim of bullying

(Longteng Models, Banality of Evil by Xiaohan Lu)

For Lu, cyber violence is a critical social issue that demands urgent attention, particularly because the adverse mental effects can be devastating for adults and even teenagers. It is crucial that the teenagers are provided with a safe and secure environment in which to grow up. This is an issue that needs to be taken seriously and addressed immediately. 

Lu’s work as a realistic and inspirational photographer aims to showcase her thought-provoking mentality through artistic expression, offering a valuable contribution to society. She is dedicated to producing powerful and meaningful images that expand the boundaries of what constitutes beauty.