Personal Identity

Constructing a personal home page can be seen as shaping not only the materials but also (in part through manipulating the various materials) one’s identity.”(Chandler, 1998) “Space” can be personalized through artistic preferences such as colour, form and sound which assert the authors individuality through creative expression on sites such as MySpace. While personal web spaces can enrich our notion of the self, the ability to constantly revise your space enables the removal or omission of undesirable qualities and the transformation of self portrayal. Through creation, association and integration personal web space evolves to create a desirable image. “The personal home page is a self-publishing medium in both senses of the term: being able to produce webpages is like owning your own printing press, and what some might call ‘self-advertisement’ seems to be a key function.” (Chandler,1998) Similar to advertising, images are a key part of communicating an online identity and at the same time serve the function of presenting (what the author believes to be) a desirable image. For example on Flickr, self identification and artistic expression merge with self advertisement. People upload photos with artistic value while at the same time integrating photos that portray different aspects of their person such as parties and functions attended by the individual in question.

Corporate Image Top of page

  Where does image for the purpose of (artistic) enlightenment, aesthetic value and self expression end and image as (self) advertisement begin? Personal web pages can be said to mirror real world corporate strategies where image ideal and commodity (or identity) are associated to stimulate desire and consumption. Maragret Crawford describes this strategy as a process of “indirect commodification” which allows non commodified values (such as art, cultural representations) to enhance commodities. For example, the HollisterCo. Website integrates art and such artistic mediums as (Indy) music and film- a live beach cam- to create a cultural identity. While corporations are using cultural practices and art to infuse their brands with an identity, the creation of art and online cultural movements such as fan art and spinoff plots (fan fiction) created by fans are under attack by large corporations for copyright infringement. (Kirsten pullen,2004) Do corporations now own culture, art, ideas and products of inspiration? Are corporations and institutions the only ones worthy of creation and influence?

Art, Activism and the Internet Top of page

Although art is frequently implicated in processes of corporate and official image making, the internet has also facilitated coalitions between activists across time and space, and the production of politically charged art. In addition to corporate strategies has emerged, a tactical response by activists characterized by art on the internet. “The internet becomes an enabler for artist/activist groups to devise tactics and engineer situations which question and potentially upset existing power relations between the individual and the establishment (art institutions, corporate power, traditional art market).” (Dzuverovic-Russell,2003) An internet community called ‘The Yes Men’ is one of many such organizations, who make evident the facility with which media can be manipulated, “Impersonating Big-Time criminals (leaders and big corporations) in order to publicly humiliate them.” – The dynamic nature of the web facilitates anonymity and the creation of multiple identities or in some cases, the creation of fictional identities as was the case in the creation of the artist known as ‘Darko Maver.’ By creating a fictional artist who supposedly staged and photographed murder scenes -generating much attention online and subsequently offline- only to reveal his non existence, the group 0100101110101101.ORG “tried to show the mechanisms which hold contemporary art, to make clear that critics and curators are able to create an artist, apart from the value of his works; this phenonmena is currently accepted or taken for granted and peoples undervalue it’s impact.” (Caronia,2000 – cited in Dzuverovic)

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