Excercise 3.3: The act we act

Create a series of photographs or short filmed piece where you become someone else. This can follow Rosy Martin’s example and be someone who has shaped your sense of self, or it can be an invention. What is important is the transformation

Using my phone and an app I became a teenage girl with the click of a few buttons – I show the transformation by posting me – nearly 47 – and then a series of selfies taken in Snapchat. I have only used Snapchat filters  – nothing else beyond that.  The text I’ve used is lifted from the images I looked in my ‘research’ (Thanks to my son for his brilliant help with this, although he did also say “You’re actually spying on my friends, Mum!”)

Although there are signs of my age in them, mostly those signs have been bleached and filtered out by technology. If I were playing a teen on stage or in a film my age would show through makeup too as it has done in these pictures around my neck, and by my lips in the penultimate one. But perhaps the Snapchat filters has succeeded far beyond anything makeup alone could do – my boys were certainly quite taken aback by the impression. A middle-aged actor played a young Karen Blixen in a stage performance I went to see recently, and in fact, the youth was in her acting rather than any mask she put on – which wouldn’t have worked anyway for her as she had to switch to the older version constantly.

These apps make it very easy for anyone who wants to, to put on a digital mask. When you work with actual masks, one way of doing it is to put the mask on and then look in the mirror and allow what you see to transform your physicality. It’s very powerful and effective. Thinking about that and how people look at their digital masks makes me think about how we adjust our behaviour according to the proprietary masks we look at in our selfies online.

The code behind the app, driven by the motivation of the commercial network, is what shapes and dictates the ‘ideal’ for many young people nowadays.  I was worried that these pictures might have seemed judgemental but the truth is the culture we live in shapes all of us, which means although I am unlikely to post these images as renditions of self or signs of my own identity, the fact I am able to make them at all suggests the culture is in me and I am of it.





10 thoughts on “Excercise 3.3: The act we act

    • Well, I’m glad of that because Wendy asked me to play and so I have done. They are cute. They are playful. But they are also frightening, really, if you look at tham from a step back (so much is in life perhaps!). Pipilotto Rist talks about how she doesn’t want to dwell on the trauma of life but wants to be playful and show the beauty of existence and the wonder of life (or words to that effect) and I agree and want to do the same. But Grotowski, who I totally agree with and who echoes my thoughts, says there is no reason something can’t be tragic and humurous, or ugly and beautiful at the same time. I want to aim for that – work that contains a mulitude of things going on.

  1. Impressive results – but that what ones faces every day looking at FB and IG selfies – instant transformation for its effects. Makes me think how Greenberg described at this time ‘kitsch’ as copying effects. Also brings back my essay for UVC on Plato’s cave today where I looked at reality TV and the self (with some reference to Jung’s ‘persona’ and the mirror image). One question that worries me since is how we (ie the majority of viewers) view theses images and self images . Whether they see the illusion and can laugh or take it as reality and embodied. Fab to hear how you connect with Rist

    • I’d like to to read that essay – can you send me a link please. I love Plato’s cave. It’s so great. I keep thinking I should stop IG altogether. There is something super kitsch about the whole environement and I’m always torn by soemthing I read a couple of years ago regarding this. You post your piantings which somehow escape the trap of IG photos…The problem with IG stuff is also the sheer volume of meaningless pixels perhaps.
      And yes, re mirror image, that’s what I was saying about masks – we see the image and act accordingly. Catherine thought I looked cute and playful which is fine except when it comes at too big a cost, and it has done for many women – the need to be cute and diminished. Which is what angers me and many other women I know far more than unwanted hands on knees, which are irritating and intrusive and pathetic (I’m not referring to more serious transgressions and violations, although of course it is the thin edge of that), and of course, part of the problem but the reductionism is horredendous. Those filters amplify it all just when we thought we were moving forward. Mind you, I know boys and men in today’s society are just as beset by other odd weirdness.

  2. Sensible response. IG a separate world . Get into a habit of posting and giving me a break- repetition . Find it now more as a playground by itself . Kind of social logic . The issue is that it makes me at times guilty when ignoring it , addictive? Still need to digest out how to use what and when and for what. Thanks for reminding me of traps. Know some of them – sure not all. I have my own burden – in my ‘past life’ I didn’t want to constantly outperform expectations (a kind of man thing?) and wanted to fail and be vulnerable . Well, another story perhaps but life took its part of me. That’s why perhaps I returned after a long break a few years ago back to art . Need to find my in betweenness

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