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Publication . Doctoral thesis . 2017

Artifice & Superfice: an Analysis of Self-Media

Kalhor, Marguerite Elizabeth;
Open Access   English  
Published: 01 Jan 2017
Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
Country: United States
This document investigates the formal and technical qualities in selfie-taking and their relationship to artworks co-existing in the deluge of social media information. Contemporary western cultural critiques on the selfie or self-media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are tinged with puritanical rhetoric that reduces web expression into behavioral do’s and don’ts, shaking fingers at exhibitionism, and lauding formulaic instances of sincerity. This particular pollution of mainstream web ideology is problematic; self-monitoring web personae stunt the growth of self-expressive virtual entities. This leads to a digital face-blindness or failure to separate the human at the keyboard from their projection on the screen and the screens of others. The result is an unconscious formulation of social media behavior and the imagined concreteness of a particular network. This misunderstanding resembles a lack of innovation in the contemporary art world as more often fine artists are succumbing to adopt the methods of creating fetish objects to satisfy the aesthetic libidos of the network. The resulting content is a frenzied, rapid-cycling of identity politics in constant identity crisis — the artist becomes the work, the object becomes mythologized or antiquated before it is even produced. Creating digital images to exist on a particular media network, the artist must battle the frequent trends and updates that developers put into place (the corporate quest for commodifying content and perpetuating normalization) by creating subversive content and identities. The pollution is mirrored with an abundance of rejected portrait images on one’s digital camera or smartphone. It is a contact sheet with little value, yet, the images remain in digital limbo until free disk space is needed. The selfie can be compared to the photographic self-portrait as a standalone medium and also as a sub-genre of self-portraiture and performance. For the exhibition component of my research, I created a series of four works titled “The This: Artifice + Superfice: two scoops of banality, a collection,” which expand on tropes and patterns I’ve interacted with on social media platforms. The value of the selfie or the social media persona lies not in their use as a tool in matters of cultural activism and capitalism, but in their ability to deceive: as objects of hyperfantasy despite their origin as mirroring their maker.

Art criticism, Art, Facebook, New Media, Selfie, Social Media

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