One project I have been working on is with pictures taken from social media and other online locations. I was first attracted to them as a micro community, which reflects ideas such as idealised self and creates a window into other peoples experiences. The decision is given to the viewer whether they will choose to buy into the fantasy offered or to denigrate it as a fake.
I was interested in:
– the presentation of an idealized version of self
– our relationship with ourselves, and a sense of ‘otherness’ from our identity
– how we archive ourselves and create legacy, an online afterlife
In ‘Conversations with Susan Hiller’ (p.72), she describes how …’Modern psychoalanytic thought has introduced to Western Culture the idea of the heterogeneity of the self, breaking the tradition of the unified subject, revealing the multivalent, discontinuous, inconsistent, precarious identity of individuals in our society.’ Although obviously she is not talking about online pictures, I do think it is an interesting thought when applied to a sense of self creation, otherness from ourselves, and fragmented identity. This sense of otherness is represented in my project by a digital manipulation of colour.
These relationships are an interesting inquiry for me, and I think if Andy Warhol was here now he may well be interested in digital processes like these. I also think he would be interested in the idea of obsession and the representation of ourselves as avatars for mass consumption. In all I think these pictures have a lot to say beyond their obvious content and a lot to think about in relation to people’s lives and how we experience ourselves through cultural mechanisms.
These pictures describe peoples lives and feelings, a contemporary fragment of human experience. Essentially, social media is an act of self creation. People offer themselves up into this gaze, as a result of hope, desire, loneliness or the desire to be noticed, which in all is the most human of ways to act. If people then act on that created self, could it become an action of becoming something created from your own fantasy? Immortalising ourselves in a construct of our own invention – a new kind of legacy, or afterlife, or shrine to ourselves. What will the archeologists of the future find when they dig into the fragments left behind? This complex relationship is why I think it is interesting as subject matter, and why it forms a kind of ethnography.
There is absolutely excessive levels of available matter, overwhelming amounts of fragments and pieces of other people. It’s really throwaway and momentary if it is allowed to be (swipe left), and so are my pictures, if they are allowed to be, a gesture towards the fallibility if observation, both for myself or an observer.
Other interesting ideas linking to this are the false self, and research/work by Stephan Schafer who gave an interesting talk at the ICA. However in Schafers case he is more interested in the relationship with the digital after death, whereas I am more interested in it whilst we are alive.
Here are some examples of digitally altered images approaching the themes above, questioning the gaze it is intended for and how that affects representation. The changes I have made aren’t that extreme, which, coupled witht he idea of creating ourselves for consumption, makes me feel that the line between humanity and inhumanity is a thin one.