‘Online Identity’ project

Assignment  Brief:

Establish and develop a website as an online artwork that responds to the theme of
‘identity online’. The website should be a resolved art work that engages with the medium
and intellectual context for internet art and digital photography in an online context.

Written statement:

The advent of the Internet has radically changed the concept of identity; particularly with the introduction of social network sites that had and still have a big impact on self-presentation and on identity construction.

Identity is an important part of the self-concept. Self-concept is the totality of a person’s thoughts and feelings in reference to oneself as an object (Rosenberg, 1986), and identity is that part of the self ‘‘by which we are known to others” (Altheide, 2000, p. 2).

The ‘Online Identity’ website is, in fact, a project on how identities are what we convince others to think of us as. In face-to-face interactions it is difficult for individuals to pretend to be what they are not. However, in an online environment, it becomes possible for individuals to interact with one another on the Internet without revealing anything about their physical characteristics.

Moreover the online world enables people not only to hide their undesired physical features, but also to re-create their personality and their biography and therefore their past and history, reinventing themselves through the production of new identities.

In the offline world, the real world, the masks people wear in everyday life become their ‘‘real” or known identities (Goffman, 1959) and a person’s ‘‘true” self often gets suppressed and becomes hidden (Bargh, 2002). In contrast, in the online world, people may tend to express what has been called the ‘‘hoped-for possible selves” (Yurchisin, 2005) which are more socially desirable identities that individuals would like to present to others because better than their ‘‘real” offline identity , a sort of combination between the “true self” and the unrealistic or fantasized ‘‘ideal self”. My project is a sort of critique of Social Network Sites, such as Facebook, where identities produced online differ from the identities produced in face-to-face situations, because people on the Internet tend to ‘‘stretch the truth a bit” (Yurchisin, 2005, p. 742) in their online self-presentations. Facebook users may in fact emphasize or even exaggerate the part of their possible selves that are socially desirable but hide or de-emphasize the part of their selves they regard as socially undesirable thanks to the use of privacy, Photoshop etc. Social Network Sites such as Facebook, enable users to present themselves in a number of ways, either explicitly or implicitly. The ‘Online Identity’ project shows how by selectively displaying pictures, listing their personal interests and hobbies, and their friends, an individual is implicitly making an identity statement about him- or herself. Those online identity production strategies enable people to stage a public display of their hoped-for possible selves that were unknown to others.
The website project wants to emphasise the ‘‘showing without telling” habit of Facebook, Internet and technology in general, where users make certain implicit identity claims through impression management (or the selective disclosure of personal details designed to present a better self) aimed at generating desired impressions on their viewers.

The notion that Facebook provide a window into the private lives of others (or into things they would not normally show in public) is not totally true because WE decide what we want to show and what we DO NOT want to show. I made use of glitches as content control. Glitches are defined as errors in communication. When error “communicates”, it does so as noise: abject information and aberrant signal within an otherwise orderly system of communication. While often cast as a passive, yet pernicious deviation from intended results, error can also signal a potential for a strategy of misdirection. The term “error” often denotes a deviation from “truth”; however, in ‘Online Identity’, they are everything but errors.

Bibliography:

Hogan, B 2010, ‘The Presentation of Self in the Age of Social Media: Distinguishing Performances and Exhibitions Online’, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society

Nunes, M. (2011) ‘Error: Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures’, London: Continuum

Zhao, S, Grasmuck, S & Martin, J 2008, ‘Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships’, Computers in Human Behavior

My Online Identity Project: http://sbugio.wordpress.com/

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