I was speaking with a good friend today and she reminded me about the need to consider invisibility not just a multimodal process and state but as having degrees. She’s described these as ‘opacity’ but I’d also like to think of them as the exercise of one or more of the variable of seeing, hearing, power, and affect being demonstrated more than the others.
Opacity is an interesting concept because so much of what we think about the world revolves around questions of opacity – or invisibility – insofar as we consider the realm of ‘transparency’ as preferred. In reality, there are things we simply don’t want to know and are happy to defer to others. In her example, policy makers. The machinery of policy can and to a degree must be unseen. It is so often the upset that arises that bespeaks the gap between policy makers and those to whom policy is met out. A person I once met argues that contemporary failures of public policy are failures of public relations – the invisible massaging of power into affective salience.