Social Media and Digital Identities

Social media as art and vs. art by Manthos Santorineos and Stavroula Zoi/ NEXTension: The Advent of The Network-Screen by Herlander Alves Elias/ Pixel Perfect: Performativity and Self-Portraiture by Erin Ashenhurst and Thecla Schiphorst/ life-log-art by Lenara Verle/ Haul Out - Goodbyes by Tegan Linda Smith/ Living The Emo Social Networks and Constant Need for Social Change by Dunja Kukovec
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
Helen Sloan
Manthos Santorineos
Stavroula Zoi
Herlander Elias
Erin Ashenhurst
Thecla Schiphorst
Lenara Verle
Tegan Smith
Dunja Kukovec

Social media as art and vs. art

by Manthos Santorineos and Stavroula Zoi

The space of the Internet, from its very first days, has been an attractive space for artists.

It provided a virgin area of unknown characteristics, dispensable to be discovered, with anticipated adventure and new opportunities, an area that had not been recorded, therefore an open space for a new beginning.

Artists, professional pioneers as they are (or addicted to the forefront), found interesting the exploration of the Internet and fascinating the ideas of the hidden surprises. To those familiar with technology as an expressive tool, it was the perfect place to develop their art.

It was a place they could build inexpensively on their own and set their own rules.

The art that first approached the Internet with significant results was literature to which we owe the term cyberspace. Literature is responsible for the mystification of the new space to an extent that the artists, youth, and people who like adventures, consider it as their own space.

The first inhabitants of cyberspace originating from the world of art, as well as programmers who considered programming as creation were characterized as Internet artists, and shaped its initial form. Later came web designers, practicing an applied art, and a modern kind of art related mostly with manipulated images, sounds and texts.

It was a community of cursed, adventurers, explorers, or romantic revolutionaries such as those of the 18 century, in the new American continent that formed the vacant and wild area in a utopian state.

Gradually the situation changed: Internet space was filled with shops, newspapers, yellow pages, maps, classified or even sexual advertisements. It became everyone’s daily routine.

On the other hand, visitors could have their own personal space to post artistic pursuits, to display or discuss them.

Where is the place of the artist in this new situation?  As an animator of visitors through the social web? In the compromise in order to be included to a new populous and commercial Internet? Or in the exploration of virgin areas that are situated on the edge of the Internet?

This presentation will demonstrate the aforementioned experience and will support the idea that artists need to excess current experience.

NEXTension: The Advent of The Network-Screen

by Herlander Alves Elias

The expansion of the current media-environment due to user-generated content, portable media and social networks has changed the very notion of citizenship. We live in a post-Web world and the screens are extensions of a post-Google cluster, limit-surfaces of Web 2.0 brands. In this paper we discuss our media age, the Mediacene. A media theory is designed to depict current trends on space, place, data and history. Network-screens perform as portals to digital space. This is the Next Tension.

Pixel Perfect: Performativity and Self-Portraiture

by Erin Ashenhurst and Thecla Schiphorst

With the increasing number of mobile devices equipped with camera technology, many urbanites have the means to spontaneously document moments of the everyday. Digital images are used as evidence to construct identity and illustrate personal histories on blogs, photo-sharing and social networking sites. While these images are framed as representations of lived experience, they are fraught with fabricated cues. Vamping for the lens, or averting their gaze towards a fictional distraction to suggest ‘candid’ shots, subjects use performance to compose their preferred visual narratives. This paper looks at contemporary cultural and technological influences that come into play during the making of amateur self-portraits, and offers a case study of the web-based photography projects, At Arm’s Length and Viewing Pleasure.

In the context of social media, the ‘profile picture’ calls for the production of a thumbnail-sized self. As building and tending to an online identity is often a solitary activity, the individual may act as both subject and photographer. Without the aid of a tripod, self-portraits are experiments of head and body angles framed by the confines of the subject’s own reach. Viewed through a web browser, At Arm’s Length begins with a set of self-portraits reflecting those commonly found in online profiles. Clicking on these initial images reveals the matching series of wide-shots exposing the contrasting environments existing beyond the boundaries of the subject’s framing. A sultry gaze is shown to be cropped out a backdrop of clutter and flannel pajamas. Bikini straps and sunglasses seem miscast on a cloudy autumn beach. A glamourous headshot is revealed as an instance of reflection in a dreary apartment lobby. Building on the theme, Viewing Pleasure contrasts stills from a woman's seductive video chat session with wide-shots of her unlikely surroundings.

In contemporary culture, narratives can be assembled from clusters of mobile uploads to build a documented, social self—independent of the lived experience of the subject, and made fluid through the filters of Adobe Photoshop. Looking at cultural archetypes and the visual cues chosen for online identity, this research works to provoke a discussion around subjectivity, performativity and the construction of visual narrative in digital photography.


by Lenara Verle

In an overly connected and digitized world, privacy becomes a privilege, and many people renounce to this privilege in a voluntary and purposeful way. Nowadays the act of documenting and sharing every aspect of one’s life is becoming more socially acceptable, and some artists aim to question and draw attention to this practice. Lifeloggers are people who decided to register their lives in digital format. The lifelog goes beyond the blog and the digital journal, from photographic journals documenting every meal to real time video broadcasts from wearable cameras. By purpose or by accident, the private life becomes a work of performance art. All our e-mails are commonly archived, the details of every phone call is saved. The movements in one’s daily life are increasingly being monitored by our handheld locating devices. The digital bathroom scale keeps track of the weight lost or acquired. Sleep-deprived workers monitor their sleep cycles at night in search for optimal rest. What can we do, and can be done to us, with this growing digital memory? Some of these questions are raised by the works of a range of contemporary artists exploring the theme of lifelogging.

Haul Out - Goodbyes

by Tegan Linda Smith

Haul Out - Goodbyes riff off the proliferation of Hauls and shopping exposés where teens show off their recent purchases. I began these Youtube postings of videos about stuff on November 26th - Black Friday, or conversely, Buy Nothing Day.

The stuff I showcase is not new, rather it is about to be given away. From the opposing side of consumer joy, I deal with bad shopping habits, accumulations of useless things and general wastefulness. The persona I have created allows me to imagine indulging in incomprehensible anxieties and attachments of someone who cannot ‘let go’ of possessions.

On an ISEA panel I would present video excerpts to discuss strategies for using the internet, the information highway, and privately-owned social networking sites, with regard to: 

1. Mixing purposes: Artistic Practice/Social Commentary/Self Promotion.

2. Examining notions of self and morality through statistics of visibility: this is my reality show and I am performing a version of my life.

3. Comparing material objects versus digital data, and dissonant feelings about dropping each in the trash.

I comment on taking responsibility for accumulated garbage, while resisting – or not – the pressure to buy more. As I view my image, I become concerned about how I look. I will have to buy new clothes, make-up, and technical equipment to improve production.

Popular young women with the most ‘youtube’ hits are beginning to make shopping careers from sponsored Hauls, hiring Hollywood agents and being interviewed on national television. Flirting with cyber-celebrity, I keep track of my Haul Out hits and posts statistics on facebook, twitter and my website.

This video project is part of a larger body of work, Tender Loving Stuff, in which I explore hoarding and wasting as they relate to psychological attachment, economic prosperity, poetic inspiration, and transgression in contemporary social practices. The desire to use virtual realms to examine the excesses of consumerism is the starting point of TLS. As a result, I butt against cyber overindulgence and my own electronic junk pile: will my electronic trash end up with “twitter” tweets in the Library of Congress or in someone else’s mash-ups?

Living The Emo Social Networks and Constant Need for Social Change

by Dunja Kukovec

The new media art lacks discourse on 'emotional intelligence and/or emotion(s)', the subject on which Web 2.0 is based on, and Web 3.0 will function as. While used mostly as populist element in new age, marketing, ...or even as pejorative aspect of feminism, the power structures (CIA and similar power services) are all doing wide research on our emotions and their effect in social strata, often connected to decision making. In the 90ties we called for new methods, strategies and tactics deriving from online world, to be grasped and used elsewhere, since it was believed that Internet might enable global social change on pragmatical level. It did and it didnt. Soon after 2000 it got clear that rather a small amount of subversive practices succeded and that digital divide didnt get any smaller (see text Chaos Computer Club, We Lost The War, 2005 – it's acctually about the failure of empoering momnet for possible transfer of ideas like sharing, commons and open source into the material world).

This text would be the continuation of the last keynote lecture at the conference of ISEA2010 held by Harald Welzer and Marko Peljhan. The initial diagnosis of the world today (reffering to Harald Welzer) is that we acctually all know what is to be done, even in various geopolitical contexts (social equality, equal possibilities, ecological and climate issues, decolonialization ...) but the question remains why we do not do it. Harald Welzer forms the clue around our indiference, the others proposed (among them Marina Grzinić, Slavoj Žižek...) that the clue for that is hidden in omnipresence of mass media, what acctually results in indiference as well.

With this paper I would like to propose that the clue - for our indiference, an emotional domain as well, for our not-doing, and the basic difference between us as individuals - is hiding in the sphere of emotional inteligence and emotions. In the lack of emotional awarness, of talking, discussing, theorizing and writing about it.