Digital Image and Culture Part 4

Digital Identities


Exercise 4.4

Exercise 4.2

Write a short (around 500 words) post in your learning log in response to the question: what does the phenomenon of the selfie tell us about how photography is popularly used nowadays? Illustrate your post with recent examples from the internet.

The idea of the selfie is not in any way a new idea, and photographers have been taking Selfies for a long time now.  The word selfie strictly refers to taking a picture of yourself. There is nothing inherently wrong in taking pictures of yourself, and indeed this has become an internet obsession for many.

When I hear the words selfie, for some reason my hackles go up a little, and I think it’s due to the horrible images my daughter used to take of herself looking like a kissing gourami because she had the impression that a huge false pout was in some way attractive

The pouting super false selfie seems to be a common meme on the internet so here are a few examples:

There is as you can see in the examples above a group of people who think beauty lies in the size of their lips, which they savagely alter in photoshop or more likely one of the ever-growing selfie apps all too available now. This look is known as the Porn Lips style and alludes to the use of Botox.

While this is a mostly female trend, there are more testosterone-driven variants, such as the need to show you gun in your selfie:

While it is true that there is much comedic value in the selfie there is nothing wrong with having a bit of fun with a camera or phone, and it does leave rise to a whole slew of internet posts on the worst selfies ever taken:

Exercise 4.3

Exercise 4.3

Taking inspiration from an image or idea you’ve researched, create your own photographic response to an internet meme. This may be something original, or your own interpretation of an existing meme. It might be funny or profound, but it should make people want to look at it and share it.

During the lockdown my usual weekly BNI meetings have moved to Zoom and I as a tchchnically able person look after the online meeting, this has left me having to come up with a new quote each week to inspire the chapter members. This felt relevant so here are a selection of the quotes I picked.

Exercise 4.2

Exercise 4.2

Although written several decades ago, Michel Foucault’s theory of ‘panopticism’ still has relevance and currency within visual culture discourse. Go to the student website and read Foucault’s essay ‘Panopticism’ (reproduced in Evans & Hall (1999) Visual Culture: The Reader, London: Sage, pp.61–71. (PH5DIC_Visual Culture_ Panopticism) Write a short summary of Foucault’s arguments, and comment on the relevance of his theory to digital culture.

Michel Foucault’s theory of ‘panopticism’

Foucault used panopticism to explain how we monitor our behaviour because we have internalised the feeling of being watched.

A panopticon is a form of prison popularised by Jeremy Bentham, in which prison cells are arranged in a circle with a big watchtower and beaming light in the centre. Through this design, the guard can see all the prisoners, but the prisoners cannot see the guard. Because the prisoners do not know when they are being watched, they will start to act on their best behaviour at all times. Jeremy Bentham conceived this building design. Foucault used panopticism to explain how we monitor our behaviour because we have internalised the feeling of being watched.

Foucault used this idea and projected it to everyday life. For example. CCTV has become so common that we do not even check to see if there is one every time we go into a shop, we monitor ourselves and do not shoplift.

This idea extends to things like social media where there are constant dire warnings over the safety and privacy of what we write that the sensible individual is careful and guarded about what they write.

Exercise 4.1

Exercise 4.1

Write an entry in your learning log (up to 500 words) about the creation of false or alternative identities online. You can touch upon any of the points discussed above, or perhaps review one of the photographic projects mentioned.

As you probably can tell by now if you followed my work thus far, I have something of a passion for fantasy, this comes ut in my art, my photography, and it started in my reading choices. When I was a teenager, I had an interest in D&D though I never played as at that time, finding groups was a difficult thing to do. In my thirties, I started to dive into the world of MMORPG or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. The fusion of technology combined with the awakening internet and the fantasy D&D ideology fused well. The first game I played in around 1998/9 was a star wars derivative called Star Wars Galaxies when you create a character it gets a name. I could not think of a name that I liked. On an impulse, I used the name of my second cousin’s father, Tibor.

Tibor is a Hungarian / Slovakian name from my mother’s line. I picked it up when I met up with my second cousin after a period of researching family history. I always thought it was a strong name, so it fits well with my new character. In the process of playing this new game, I met a group of American players who were of a similar age and maturity to me. I discovered the world of TeamSpeak and added voice coms to my list of experience. Voice was an old friend as in the early eighties I was a CB nut and met most of my friends through that medium.

I made some firm friends on that voice chat, some of whom I have even been to visit in the USA. Lots of those people are still good friends today.

In terms of alternative identity, most of those people call me Tibor. We swapped games in around 2004 to plat World of Warcraft. My name and identity came with me, while I have other characters with different names Tibor is still a live character over 20 years later and an still an Identity by which I am known.

There is a strange thing that happens when you create an identity like this, at first its to hide who you are behind a fantasy name. As time goes by the identity becomes part of who you are to a point where I am happy to identify and respond to the name Tibor in real life.

Some people may think that the world of online gaming is a dark and dogie place, but the truth is that over 20 years it has been a place of freedom of expression and an escape from the daily pressure of life. I have lived a more abundant and more full life because of it, and I have friends around the globe that I would otherwise not know.

In some ways, my alternative identity has become a real part of whom I am so when responding to a question like this, I have to say I have an alternative identity and not a fake identity.

My dubious and fake Linkedin Id of Ford Prefect was done as a spoof so that I could leave a recommendation on my own profile from that famous Douglas Adams character using the legendary quote from the book “Sass that Hoopy Steve Barney. There’s one frood who really knows where his towel is!”

Now that is a fake ID.