As we increasingly have to craft our online image to guard and nurture our identity, this image of the self has become even more conscious, present, and fabricated than in the days when Guy Debord coined the Society of the Spectacle. I have lately found myself starring more and more in the mirror, fascinated by the mixed familiarity and incomprehensibility of my own face. This is an exercise in viewing myself, where I draw a portrait of my mirror face with ink every day.
Hanny Ahern and Phil Groman are producing a short online film about new media and narcissism for the Connected Documentary class, and we have had some interesting conversations surrounding narcissism. What I have read of Nicholas Carr's the Shallows, and what I have read of the millions of articles and posts regarding the effects of short-form communication and online identities on our brains, and going back to the sense of doom that I have had ever since i read the Society of the Spectacle years ago, I am overwhelmed by the role of imagery in my life. I am especially overwhelmed by my own image, at once constantly being and perceiving myself from the outside. At times I perceive strangers in an equally shallow way. I can at once perceive others as images and as people/beings, and I sometimes equate the two.
Lately I have become aware of my fascination with my own face. It includes the standard insecurities, but also a sense of fascination with its seemingly endless transformation. As familiar as I am to myself, I am always surprised at my own reflection. The time this causes me to spend examining it makes me worried I will turn into a flower, or, in my version of the myth, maybe a piece of furniture that flanks the mirror in my room.
My first thought, when I catch myself starring in the mirror, is usually shame about my insecurities and self-criticism coming from my disdain for vanity. But in this exercise I want to go deeper into this narcissism and explore what I am doing with ink on paper. The act of drawing is the act of looking intensively, and the inaccuracies in these drawings are points of focus. They tell the story of my gaze, and hopefully my narcissism.
This exercise parallels my facebook agony: do I quit facebook to run from the online identity it has created for me, and lose the updates and the welcome distractions I love so much, or can I ignore its version of my identity and use it as a tool?
Also Somewhat related: Hanny Ahern, Paragini Amin, and I have submitted a proposal about looking, out and still at yourself, seeing your world through your own reflection, for a design competition, the proposal is here.