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THE NEW PORTRAIT


It is almost impossible for us to not be defined in some small way by technology. We all exist, in part, in an online space; a shared public space. The best part is that everyone interacts with technology in different ways. Some people reject the notion of an online or virtual presence. Others struggle with it, and some wholeheartedly embrace it. One thing is clear, however - it is our own personal relationships with technology that inform how we see ourselves, how others see us and how we want to be seen. It is how we use technology in the 21st century that, in part, informs who we are. The artists exploring ideas of identity and self, both tangibly in The New Portrait gallery show and here in the zine, are able to manipulate and define their own notions of the self within the digital realm. We are adapting with technological advancements and making them work for us rather than the other way around. We are creating code that makes errors in systems that are traditionally based on order. We are creating and molding not only our own likeness but also entire worlds out of software and gaming systems, blurring the lines of existence in virtual and actual space and helping us understand even further this dichotomy. And, as frightening and daunting as this is, the possibilities are endless, thought-provoking and creative. So it is with this craving to discover, embrace, and celebrate identity and personality through technology, to celebrate the good that new innovations are affording us, that I leave you with The New Portrait to explore.

Text: Mathea Millman

FROM THE EDITOR

It is normal to hear people of my generation being referred to as a collective entity. Lingering behind a wall of stereotypes is our search to distinguish ourselves in a time when we carry the burden of being categorized by certain collective descriptors. This need and desire to stand out, to find something truly unique and original, in an age where it has seemingly ‘all been done before,’ is compelling new media artists to reject the notion of a collective identity with vigor.


Images: A. E. Kieren


BEN STAINTON YANN PATRICK MARTINS A.E. KIEREN ALLY LINDSAY MATHEA MILLMAN JOSH TURK SIERRA SIEMER JONATHAN MELVILLE PRATT CHAD WYS (46)

(16-17,47)

Images: A. E. Kieren

(6,9)

(28-29)

(5)

(13, 27)

(14-15)

(20-26)

(49)


LAURA JANE KENNY BENJI SAYED MENGEH SEAUX OLIVER MINT TRAVIS RAINEY NYDIA BLAS WILLIAMS CODY GARRETT TYLER BARKER KEITH MILLMAN JENNIFER GERMANN

(31-32)

(49)

(34-37)

Images: A. E. Kieren

(30,33)

(44-45)

(38-41)

(48-49)

(42-43)

(18-19)

(10-13)


Images: A. E. Kieren


Text: Jennifer Germann

WHAT DOES A PORTRAIT DO?

What does a portrait do? Or, what do we do with portraits? They are the means for self-fashioning, they engage (and disrupt) ideals of beauty, and they are traditionally seen as commemorative. They have also been major points of contention for artists, critics, and art historians, who have debated portraiture’s significance, merit, and even dangers – something that has become ever more apparent in the age of the selfie. A common theme, from the portraits of kings to high school yearbook photos to a Tumblr page of digital self-portraits, is remembrance, though the impulse that drives each form may be distinct. More broadly, though, all portraits pose the questions, “Who are you? Who am I?” The answers are generated not in the studio or at the point of making, but rather through the engagement of the artist/maker, the sitter, and the spectator in a series of exchanges that generate different answers depending on who offers a reply. In all cases, portraiture situates the individual – the artist and the sitter – in relation to broader social, cultural, and political formations, and it is the spectator’s engagement, their mode of reading, what they see of what is shown, that makes the portrait complete. Portraits do not simply record what the artist saw. George Romney’s portrait of Elizabeth Ward reveals a deliberate attempt to fashion an image of natural, and feminine, innocence. In the portrait, we see a young girl sitting in a forest glade, hair cropped and wearing a simple shift, and gently cradling a bird in her arms. Ward’s portrait insists upon the naturalness of this image, but a simple test reveals that this is a deliberate invention: try holding her pose for thirty seconds and it becomes clear that there is nothing natural about it.


WE MIGHT SAY THAT PORTRAITS OCCUPY A SPACE IN-BETWEEN, AS BOTH AN IMAGE AND A RECORD, AS A MOMENT AND A PERSISTING EVENT, AS A LIKENESS AND A FICTION


Text: Jennifer Germann

While verisimilitude is often presumed to be the marker of success in a portrait, that is not always so. Madame de Pompadour, the important art patron and royal mistress, was quite pleased with her portraits by Francois Boucher, even though by her own admission they were “very little like.” Beyond likeness, portraits in early modern Europe were meant to convey the status of the sitter. “I am this valorous captain who carries terrible might everywhere” and “I am this man of letters completely absorbed in the sciences” are the phrases that the art theorist Roger de Piles put into the mouths of male sitters in the early eighteenth century. Fifty years later, many individuals claimed to seek character studies instead, which Maurice Quentin de La Tour capitalized on. He claimed to “penetrate into the depths of my subjects without their knowing it, and capture them whole.” Sometimes seen as repetitive and certainly not always depicting the sitter as beautiful (La Tour tactlessly complained of one royal sitter, “I cannot paint a face like that!”), his portraits seemed to connect with the inner life of the subject. His success was attributed, in part, to his medium. The speed of pastel painting allowed the sitter to remain animated, permitting their personality to shine through and presenting an image that seemed more than skin deep. We can see the same pressures of accuracy and beauty playing out in the portrait-like images that surround us, from Tumblrs filled with selfies to passport photos taken twice (at least). We are not satisfied by one image, often taking multiples to find just the right one, or to express a sense of self at any given moment. We are facilitated in this by the ease of creating digital images, though perhaps also burdened

by the concomitant demand to present our “selves” to any and all viewers at all times. With the 2010 introduction of front and back cameras in the iPhone 4, selfies exploded in popular culture and everyday life. These images can be understood as a response to the growing significance of our digital social lives, mediating between the real and virtual, and the self and others. However, the use of portraits to perform the task of negotiating the material and the imaginary, the individual and the social, is not new. Jean-Marc Nattier began a family portrait in 1730, at a happy moment, when his career was on the upswing and his family was young and healthy. He left it incomplete as his paying business pressed on him, returning to it three decades later, after the tragic deaths of his wife and eldest son. In this portrait, they remain permanently youthful, while he presented himself older and more careworn. The image may have allowed him to return to the past, or imagine a different future. It presents what Hannah Williams describes as an “alternative temporality,” rooted in desire and grief. We might say that portraits occupy a space in-between, as both an image and a record, as a moment and a persisting event, as a likeness and a fiction. What makes these images most compelling may be our sense of seeing another person across time and space, what Roland Barthes recognized as the “punctum” of an image. In Nattier’s portrait, what is most expressive is not the contrast between the apparent age of husband and wife, but the blurry space that seems to form a nimbus around the artist, the sketched-in quality of his hand holding his brush and palette, the sense that even in an image the distance between the artist and


Text: Jennifer Germann / Image: Josh Turk

his family cannot be bridged. For me, Nattier’s portrait answers the question “Who am I?” in melancholy but powerful terms. This portrait does what portraits do: it represents the sitter via the labors of the artist for the spectator to engage and imagine.

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Images: Sierra Siemer


Errors are dismissed as unwanted, but they can be used for enlightenment and expression. Though errors are generally produced accidentally, a co-opting of rules and protocols can help lead toward unexpected outcomes. Seeking out misdirection and breaking rules can provide an opening for variance outside of predictable or traditional outcomes. Rather than considering errors as resistance to a user’s goals, they can be playful, positive exchanges with machines. Instead of an error being a failure to communicate, it can be an entirely new form of communication. Initiating this conversation can open the doors to a world that is unknown to us, beyond our reasoning.

Text: Sierra Siemer

CHANCE, ERROR, & DESIGN

Misdirection seduces us off the path of intent, into experiment and abstraction. Often the result is beyond what can be realized within existing social and cultural practices. Error can lead to new discoveries, highlight process, give truth to form, and give a voice to tools often considered lifeless devices. Our society relies heavily on precision and order, though errors slip through and create deviations. These moments of technology going astray are considered communication failures, and we are trained to avoid them at all costs. Despite the benefits of being in a global, networked society–both political and otherwise–there is an inherent suppression of experimentation and error in this system. Failures are cast aside and must be eliminated for maximum control.


Image: Oliver Min


Image: Yann Patrick Martins


I applied these operations chronologically as they described my life to a self-portrait. The final picture is the result of my biography as Photoshop operations applied to it, and the scroll is the Photoshop edit log printed with circled keywords of my life from open to close. Text and Images: Keith Millman

IAM_ SCROLL.TIF

I thought; what if I could describe my life using the language of Photoshop operations and adjustments, filters and edits. I thought about my life at different times, from infant to old man then used words found in the menus and palettes of Photoshop; Smart Object, Transform, Purge Histories, Make New Work Path etc.


BY MATHEA MILLMAN

I​ think I’ve turned to techniques of obfuscation because identity is already so concealed, much of the time even from ourselves. For example, I turn to portraiture in my work because portraits are a bit of a conundrum: they can express an individual’s superficial characteristics, and the characteristics of the artist, quite beautifully but they often communicate next to nothing substantive about any of the people involved. Some artists, like Lucian Freud and other postmodern portraitists, attempt(ed) to answer the disconnect between art (portraiture) and identity by emphasizing the psychological aspects of painting in relation to painting likenesses--so the painting of the person more or less becomes about the person being painted. As an appropriation artist my methodology is to exaggerate, rather than to bridge or remedy, the disconnect between ourselves and that with which we identify by aesthetically eliminating clarity and creating a new set of visual obstacles with which the viewer must now grapple. Rather than trying to clarify identity, I’m interested in underscoring the fundamental dishonesty and confusion, or the intrinsic incompleteness and impossibility, of identification through objects, images, and art. There is an almost violent quality to the way in which you easily and consistently conceal or disrupt the original identity of the subjects of your work. How much meaning comes from this repetition of a theme present in all your work?

Text and Image: Chad Wys

INTERVIEW WITH CHAD WYS

What is it that interests you in deconstructing readymades and making images and pieces that deal with the concealment or reconstruction of identity?


Text and Image: Chad Wys

By adding my gestures to the materials I appropriate I try to dislodge them from their earlier contexts ​and invite the viewer to reconsider them more literally as the representations, reproductions, and facsimiles of “reality” that they are. Rather than consider the sitter in a Raphael portrait, I’d like to consider the painting itself and the subsequent reproductions of the painting, their purposes, and the ways they have been used, manipulated, and reproduced since Raphael painted the initial “copy” of his sitter. I like to consider the extraordinary and immortal life of the reproductions of art and objects. Many images are of religious icons. Does religion have a place in your work? Or are the figures mainly symbols for larger ideas? I​ think religion had, and has, a significant place in art history. I’m not a religious man, nor am I especially resentful of religion, so I do not seek out religious material in order to critique it in particular. Art history and culture provide my source material and I’m all too happy to indulge in the content offered. Religious icons are an enormous part of our social narratives and they have enormous contemporary implications. Is your work more about the process of deconstruction of these classical forms or what they transform in to? Is it about the process or the final result? ​ hat’s a great question. I think my work T is equally about process and about what I’m presenting to the viewer (I guess we can call that the “final result,” although I’m inclined to think of the viewer’s experience of my work to be more definitive than anything I can do myself).

My process is only important insofar as I’d like the viewer to consider what I have contributed and what my source materials are. Often this information is not offered directly to the viewer and it becomes necessary for him or her to infer what they’re seeing. This ambiguity is instrumental to my work as it mirrors the ambiguity of images and objects and their functions in our various cultures. For example, with my Nocturne series I’ve appropriated digital .JPG’s of antique portrait paintings and through digital manipulation, or digital trompe l’oeil, I’ve refashioned the works into seemingly half-painted, or halfdeconstructed, renderings with visual clarity decreased. I’m mirroring the “lie” of the digital reproduction of the paintings (they look real, but they’re just digital code transmitted via the Web), by digitally over-painting or deconstructing the paintings with seemingly “wetpaint” or “real world” techniques. The whole experience is artificial because it’s 100% virtual. My purpose, which is closely aligned with my process, is to underscore the artificial nature of the images we see on a routine basis. What artists are you inspired by? L​ ately I’ve been taken with graphic design. Visually, there’s not much better than a really well-planned and executed poster, or a book cover, or a letter-head, etc. Graphic design, in the proper hands, can offer the best marriage of content and aesthetics imaginable. I’m continuously inspired by the clever use of color to communicate ideas and meaning, and the use of form to create a balance and (dis)harmony of information. All of this stimulates me creatively and I have enormous respect for the skill and intelligence of graphic designers (of all eras, but especially our own). But if you’re really curious about


Text and Image: Chad Wys


a specific artist who inspires me, I’ll point to Man Ray; a visual experimenter after my own heart.

Text and Image: Chad Wys

The subjects you choose are mainly historical figures or from a certain time in history although it seems (especially with the lines like a tv glitch) that you are inspired by modern day conceptions and distortions of identity as expressed through a physical means. Explain your interest in repurposing older pieces of art and transforming them with contemporary associations. ​ hat’s a good observation and it aims T at the core of my personal craft: which is to ​underscore the contemporary use of objects and images and our reception of visuality in general. Most of my materials refer back to some antique original, but the actual materials I source are often modern, vintage, or “contemporary” digital files, massproduced photographs/prints, or factory made objects that are each indicative of the industrial revolution and the awesome technologies that have been developed over the last century or so. So the materials I use are distinctly industrial in nature, but they mimic antique finery--my “contemporary” interactions are simply indicative of my place and time.


PORTRAITS ARE A BIT OF A CONUNDRUM: THEY CAN EXPRESS AN INDIVIDUALS SUPERFICIAL CHARACTERISTICS, AND THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ARTIST, QUITE BEAUTIFULLY BUT THEY OFTEN COMMUNICATE NEXT TO NOTHING SUBSTANTIVE ABOUT ANY OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED.


27 Text: Chad Wys / Image: Josh Turk


EXCERPT FROM ‘JUST TEXT ME’ BY ALLY LINDSAY


Image: Oliver Mint


This is no longer the case. The surge of photography and the addition of personal cameras in almost everyone’s pockets has filled the Internet to the brim with those who are depicting themselves daily, particularly those who want their style to be noticed, admired and sponsor-able. Selfie-takers and bloggers swathed in brands overcrowd the internet with their desire to awe. And sometimes, this can be great. Sometimes, you stumble across a young teen stuck in a midwestern suburb who finds little appreciation or community for power-clashing or faux-fur slip-ons among their piers. The internet can offer sodality and support to be creative, adventurous and innovative. However, to call this phenomenon problematic is a generous statement.

Text: Laura Jane Kenny

THE DANGER OF DRESSING FOR THE LIKES

Fashion’s greatest contribution to society is the room it creates for people—and the cultures they generate—to express themselves. This is particularly important when we remember that self-expression and visual communication allow for the advancement of oppressed groups, such as ethnic minorities and women, that cannot find voice in more conventional methods. This can be seen before fashion ever had runway shows and blogs. This ability to communicate through personal adornment can be seen in the portrait paintings that cover the Met’s walls. Frida Kahlo’s famous thorn necklace offers the viewer insight into her perspective on suffering. When painted in her Chemise a la Reine, the viewer learns about Marie Antoinette’s exhibitionistic nature in a strict French society. Throughout history, portraits served as rare moments to share oneself, to capture the essence of a person through form and props and styling, like having one or two instagrams for your whole life.


Text: Laura Jane Kenny

Social media portraits are rarely insights into our authentic lives, they instead represented a contrived form of self. While this is entirely logical— if a picture of me is going to be on instragram for who knows how long, of course I want it to be in my fav bold shift dress—it changes why we get dressed and adds to our culture’s obsession with individualistic identity. When our best outfits are worn so that we might be photographed in them, how we dress has become entirely about how we are captured, seen and remembered. And while clothing has always been about image in one form or another—social status, class, gender, or just plain style—clothing has also been celebrated for how it liberates, emancipates, elevates and changes how we feel. The 80’s power suit was praised for imbuing women with confidence and demanding equal respect for those who wore it. It wasn’t innocent of vanity, but it was also about the experience of wearing it, owning it, taking pride in it. The studs and spikes of the punk movement were a symbol of uniting ones self-identity with that of the whole subculture. The uniforms of the Black Panther Movement were carefully chosen and wholeheartedly committed too. These elaborate outfits were not just costumes in which to be seen, but sacrifices to the commitment of being the outsider who wanted to be seen and heard. Flappers were wearing corset-free dressers so they could dance. Women of the 1960s choose miniskirts to communicate ownership over one’s body. And we can imagine how the majority of these candid images from history are reflections of culture, of people who lived and breathed and voted and worked in these clothes. When we dress primarily to be photographed, to be consumed and judged by other’s pinterest boards,

we rid clothing of its ability to impact the wearer and the culture they live in. Let us imagine and aspire to a resurgence of dressing intentionally, to display our truest, bravest selves and not give into a culture of inauthentic, curated, polyvore-esq picked-online-bya-stylist, combinations of what might be considered “good” outfits. Perhaps we would be able to lessen our culture’s fixation on individual identity in order to allow clothing to carry weight and meaning that is larger than ourselves. Only then can clothing be a hint, a clue to telling the world who we—and who our society is—and perhaps can become a tool for helping us become who we, as a people, would like to be.


Image: Oliver Mint

LET US IMAGINE AND ASPIRE TO A RESURGENCE OF DRESSING INTENTIONALLY, TO DISPLAY OUR TRUEST, BRAVEST SELVES

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Text: Mengeh Seaux

SELFIES, SOCIETY AND SARTRE

The selfie has come a long way in its journey to acceptance in contemporary popular culture. From the questionably tasteless Xanga selfie of yore, to the celebrated irony and sarcasm that characterizes today’s selfies that sit with Regina George and the Plastics of social media on Facebook/Instagram, the selfie has served a critical function as a genre for travel-destination humble brags, intentional ugly faces of pretty people, and #funeralselfies. It’s made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary, and TIME Magazine’s 2012 list of “Top Ten Buzzwords,” and has become a marketing and advertising default strategy (hi, Samsung). If that wasn’t enough, the selfie has gone into space with rovers and astronauts. It’s a selfie world and we’re just SnapChattin’ in it! But wait. Let’s backtrack. For all of the many accomplishments the selfie has earned in the cultural zeitgeist category, isn’t it a little suspect how quickly the selfie went from being all, “shady bathrooms and emo teens” to everyman’s glamour self-portrait?[1] How did the selfie find its way into our hearts and feeds?[2] What does the selfie’s rapid ascent to popularity reveal about our society and its values? [3]Is selfie culture an agent in postponing a lurking and menacing societal existential crisis? Will there be a #selfiebacklash from this pinnacle of sociological-celebrity? While I can only suggest possible answers (in footnotes) for the above questions, I strongly believe that one future effect of selfie culture is the threat it poses to our existential being, both as a society and as individuals. The selfie is a concrete manifestation of the Sartrean concept of bad faith, a willful ignorance made possible by the defense mechanisms of denial and hypocrisy. 20th Century French Existential Philosopher Jean Paul Sartre believed


in the freedoms we possess innately, for fear of having to take accountability for individual choice. Bad faith is a state of being which most people recognize and are acutely aware of, but also a state that many more actively choose to ignore. When we live in bad faith, we free ourselves from the burden of choice and relinquish accountability for our actions, foisting them instead onto society – because we have willingly bought-into an existence that is defined and shaped not by ourselves – but by social norms.

Bad faith is an intentional and conscious self-deception, which denies human freedoms and emphasizes a factual, paint-by-numbers existence. It can be understood as living life in a static role defined by societal labels ranging from the occupational to the socioeconomic. It is a reluctance to engage

Bad faith is like the ultimate dodge ball strategy, the “Chameleon” technique. The chameleon stands at the back behind everyone who’s actually playing the game until they are the last one standing. It may be the ultimate strategy, but it isn’t the winning strategy. This strategy is simply a distraction; it

Text: Mengeh Seaux

that the primary objective of life is to realize the full potential of the authentic-self. In order to achieve this, first, we must undo any type of societal conditioning that leads to inauthentic learned-behavior; remove mask after mask (or Instagram filter after VCSO filter) in Aristotelian fashion, chiseling away to release our authentic-selves from inside the marble. In his 1943 text, Being and Nothingness, Sartre identified “mauvaise foi,” (bad faith) as the primary antagonist in this journey of self-actualization.


postpones the amount of time it takes to get hit and thus “out.”

Text: Mengeh Seaux

The selfie has become so widely embraced as a genre of digital selfportraiture that instead of questioning why and how we use selfies in our lives – we blend in, adapt to the digital culture, use them like everyone else does and slowly the act of taking a selfie starts to lose its meaning. The chameleon deceives him/herself into thinking they are participating in the game, selfies are a distraction that deceive us into thinking that we are participating in something by participating in selfie culture; but winning is not an option when you aren’t playing, and life is not an option when you aren’t actively engaged in exploring your existence. Selfie culture symbolically represents

the collective bad faith of a society that has deceived itself into accepting a formerly reviled genre of selfportraiture. I believe that it was initially hard to believe that anyone could take a selfie seriously, but it underwent a transfiguration when people started taking selfies ironically. This transfiguration seems to have covered up the initial reason why the mask of irony that helped translate the selfie into acceptance adds yet another layer of bad faith to the threat selfies pose to our existential condition. On an individual scale, the selfie is an enemy of self-discovery because we lead a finite existence; it dilutes the urgency for living life by taking time away from living life in order to escape into its filtered and magical frames. Anything that is done outside of the pursuit of discovery at large and


But what’s so bad about bad faith anyway? “Wouldn’t life just be easier if I didn’t have to make so many choices?” Well, yes, probably. Most of the instances where we exert free-will and choice are small. But when we are faced with big choices – and have become so accustomed to smaller but ongoing instances of denying our agency for the sake of convenience (selfies) – we are more likely to have something we call a “quarter-life crisis” or a “mid-life crisis.” The more time we spend engaging in distracting activities the more out of practice we become with exercising our freedoms and the more debilitating it becomes when we have to make a choice. The selfie poses a deceptively benign threat to our society’s existential condition. The hypocrisy that accompanied the selfie’s acceptance

in a contemporary popular culture that ridiculed it a mere decade ago (#MySpacemirrorpic c.2003), is a testament to the bad faith we’ve accrued as a society. Have we distanced ourselves too far from the judgment we passed on the early selfie, just so that we won’t have to judge ourselves for participating in the culture today? Are we in denial about our intentions concerning the selfie? If we took accountability for the bad faith that selfies symbolize could we co-opt the culture and neutralize the threat? The small instances in which we live our life in bad faith reveal much about our present human condition; distraction from our authentic-selves is plentiful and we grow more-and-more alienated from what Sartre would deem our sole purpose for existing – the pursuit of our authentic-selves. [1] Yes. Yes it is. [2] Invisibility cloaks? [3] Inconsistence? Flip-flopping? Apathy?

Text: Mengeh Seaux

self-discovery in particular would be considered a distraction. Distractions allow us to escape from the heavy existential burden of defining our lives’ meaning, value and worth in our cosmos and in our societies. Distractions are actions that neither advance nor regress our current state of being, it allows us to remain static and constant. But there is a cognitive dissonance that is hard to reconcile when the world changes around us but we remain the same. When I was younger my mom always used to warn me when I grimaced that if I made faces my face would stay like that. If we “stay” still long enough in terms of our maturation as humans – we stand the risk of having our personalities and identities “stay like that.” Selfies encourage us to escape from reality into the fantasy of our selfrepresentation, which is a distraction that we accept – all the while knowing that it takes us further from our goal of self actualization.


EXCERPT FROM ‘IN SELF DEFENSE’ BY NYDIA BLAS WILLIAMS


Image: Tyler Barker


This piece is a self portrait of my own virtual presence. I modeled myself within these softwares - Zbrush and Maya - much like how one would sculpt something out of clay. Beginning from a basic primitive form, polygons are pushed and pulled, smoothed, flattened, and inflated. Craftsmanship has become how well one can use a mouse and a keyboard to navigate, control, and manipulate their virtual world. The interface of these softwares is a language in itself, one that is constantly evolving and improving with each new update. The computer screen is my only view into this world, a portal that is opened and closed with a push of a button. Inside Maya, the infinite world is defined through an x,y,z coordinate space. I positioned my virtual self at the center of this world - 0,0,0 - and arranged two lights and a camera to document myself. This piece is the resulting photograph taken within that virtual space.

Text: Tyler Barker

I JUST MOVED IN

Current digital modeling and rendering technology has come to a point where fully functioning realities are able to be imagined and created within a handful of computer softwares. These tools are most commonly being used for creating video game simulations and special effects within movies. As I have begun to learn to use these softwares, I have become more and more persuaded by digital existence as a form of reality unto itself.


Text: Travis Rainey

POINTS OF RESISTANCE

When we look at our individual presence online we are faced with many specific documents (i.e., posts, videos, photos, etc.) that rather explicitly try to form our identity as a whole. Although merely descriptive when these elements are examined superficially, they can serve as references to the performative subconscious ego. Naturally, the intimacy of those elements and the relative ease of which they can be accessed and interpreted (or misinterpreted), has engendered serious trepidation among a segment of our society. As a result of this skepticism, people have tried to resist this nascent part of our lives by either subverting cultural norms regarding the creation and maintenance of an identity online or by foregoing it entirely. Yet, these acts do not simply negate an online identity, rather they suggest a much more complicated relationship between our ego and its manifestation on the Internet. Action and in-action are both equally performative. Using Michel Foucault’s ‘knowledgepower’ structure and applying it to the self I created this series as an attempt to illustrate this relationship. Resistance in this case becomes a crucial piece in how we perceive ourselves digitally. Every motivation, action, avoidance, and failure is a unique point that makes up the larger web of our ego. The relationship is symbiotic rather than mutually exclusive, fluid rather than stagnant. A record of our own self is present in social media even if we do not actively participate in its curation. And even if a tangible record does not exist, it implies that there is in fact an identity to be hidden. Its absence is used to draw conclusions. Our online experience is one that resists categorization despite our efforts – or lack thereof – to define it.


Images: Travis Rainey


Image: Ben Stainton


Images: Yann Patrick Martins


Text: Cody Garrett

A NEW FRONTIER FOR SELFIDENTITY

When I create something I want it to be a reflection of me. Whether it is expressing a childhood memory or visualizing an emotional dream, I want to make sure that the piece I am working on is a part of myself in some way. Utilizing an interactive medium, such as video games, can be a bit of challenge because while much of your personality or identity you put into building the world you are not alone in the overall experience. Imagine playing a video game where you are just dropped into an open space with no concept of who you are or what you are doing there. As the player, you might experience a variety of emotions, from curiosity to anxiety, but eventually you may get bored or frustrated and decide to stop playing. As a game developer, I think about how to grab a players interest and hook them in. From here, I have two ways to steer my players and maintain their interest. My first approach is by establishing a character for the player, a conflict for the character, and the setting for the conflict. Creating a good character in a video game is similar to creating a good character in any other medium; they have to be relatable for players to feel attached and empathize with the character. Consider what the character will do in the game but also what they would do in their down time. Creation of a character’s identity is then reflected against the conflict of the story. Lastly, I use the setting to determine the mood for the character and conflict, altogether creating the game.


Personality and identity are extremely important in video games because they provide substance to video games as an artistic medium. In our modern world, both major and independent game studios are now focusing in on creating an emotional link between the player and the character. There has never been a better time to explore identity by playing a video game.

Text: Cody Garrett / Image: (L) Jonathan Melville Pratt ; (R) Benji Sayed

Another method is by giving players the tools they need to create their own character. Being able to decide how the character looks and acts puts the players in control of the personality and overall identity of the character. In this case, identity is fluid as every task the player completes their character gains experience or fame and changes. As the game progresses, the impressions of the player character will be noticeable through the actions of nonplayer characters in response to the character.


WEBSITES BEN STAINTON YANN PATRICK MARTINS A.E. KIEREN ALLY LINDSAY MATHEA MILLMAN SIERRA SIEMER JONATHAN MELVILLE PRATT CHAD WYS BENJI SAYED OLIVER MINT TRAVIS RAINEY

bpstainton.wordpress.com yannpatrickmartins.com aekieren.com allylindsay.com matheamillman.com sierrasiemer.com jonathanmelvillepratt.com chadwys.com vimeo.com/benjiblessingsayed olivermint.tumblr.com vimeo.com/travisrainey


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