Who is Sara?

My MA project is in full swing in terms of the writing, but for a long time now I've felt something has been missing. Since I've spent three years on a Photography degree I knew I had to get in the studio soon to translate my ideas into visual form.

Without giving too much away, my project is focussing on social media and identity. With this shoot I wanted to try and figure out who Sara is, hence the reason why I put together different outfits to reflect her possible personality and identity - is she a laid-back character so prefers to wear casual clothes? Is she more of a girly-girl so she prefers to wear cute dresses? Or is she a caring person, which is why she spends the majority of her time working at a care home which she finds rewarding? 

Sara?

WHO IS SARA?

I look at myself in the mirror and think, 'does Sara already exist?

There's a public me and a private me. When do I feel more like me? And is that me, Sara?

Unlike Yasmin

Confident, not confused

Give up?

No chance

Driven

Motivated

Ambitious

All the right words

IRL | URL

Blurred lines

Happy

But,

Happy?

Escapist

Living a lie

Self destructive?

One thing in common, at least

Yasmin?

The one you think you know.

Tries, fails, but tries again

Ends up back where she started

Social media profiles scattered here, there and everywhere

The confusion made apparent with the many facets she shares

Tries to fit in, but always the odd one out

Caring yet past caring

Trust issues galore

Not at fault

Focussed

Determined 

Obsessive 

Escapist

Polite, loving

Don't be fooled...

Self destructive.

ISelf Collection: The End of Love Exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London

A few weeks ago I went to London with Beth to Whitechapel Gallery to see the Thomas Ruff exhibition, but then we just happened to come across the ISelf Collection: The End of Love. Whilst there I realised the exhibition had some similar themes to my MA project, which meant it was great for research! 

Gillian Wearing: Kim, 2008

"Wearing is known for her films and photographs which explore both public personas and private lives and obsessions. Kim is part of the Pin Up series (2008) for which Wearing placed an advertisement asking young women who aspire to become glamour models to send her their photographs and stories. Collaborating with the young women Wearing included idealised airbrushed portraits along with their own letters and snapshots inside an archival box frame, combining the fantasy and reality of self-representation."

- ISelf Collection, Whitechapel Gallery 27 April 2017 - 12 August 2018

The majority of my research for my project so far has been about identity, and exploring this in terms of the diary, authenticity, and the public and private self. It was the work of Gillian Wearing at the exhibition that I felt related the most to what I have been researching in terms of imagined identities, even though my project is based mainly around the theme of online identities, I am finding that the themes I'm covering cross over with many other types of works by a variety of artists, just like with this project by Gillian Wearing.

Kim from the Pin Up series has been presented in an archival box which I thought was very effective in bringing across to the audience the idea of public fantasies and hidden realities. On the outside you can see a photo of Kim taken professionally which is airbrushed to perfection, whereas inside there are snapshots presented with a handwritten letter letting people know why she wanted to become a glamour model and how being in front of the camera makes her feel. At the time of seeing Gillian Wearing's work at the gallery I found this juxtaposition of public/private presented at such close proximity was very eye-catching, that it's not something we usually see - but then again we all know with the Selfie obsession that's not true. How often do we see a view of people's bedrooms in the background of a selfie, possibly some dirty laundry in the corner or a messy bed?

My public and private life is kept as far apart as it can in a world where privacy no longer seems to be important to many social media users. My private Instagram account is locked, where I'm happy to post the most awful framed snapshot or an occasional selfie, and where I only accept those I know personally, with an exception of some true friends I've made online. On the other hand my public Instagram account is kept as non-personal as it possibly can be. Very rarely is a photo of myself posted, but you will find a couple of self-portraits here and there taken for my past university projects, plus one photo of myself taken at graduation, and I remember being hesitant to even post that.

Constructing an Identity Using Social Media and Photography

"The only aim in my mind at this point in my teenage life was to boost my crippling low self-esteem and get a few nice comments from locals via the Internet", Emma Gannon (2016, p.8)

When social media were introduced it became common for users, especially women, to create a version of themselves online that is more confident and glamorised than their real life selves. Platforms such as Myspace and Instant Messaging site MSN were being used to connect with new people, but in actual fact this is where users began transforming their identities from everyday identities into created and imaginary ones. These identities often showcased escapism through the online world and fantastical realities of the individual. Social media has the ability of allowing users to create an identity of themselves that can make a big impact on their popularity, culture and class. However, it has also led to an honour killing due to westernised self-representations online and its lack of acceptance in Asian society. 

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MA by Research in Art & Design - Thoughts on Social Media, the Blogosphere and Constructed Identities

It was in 2012 when I first discovered the Blogosphere. I remember stumbling across Zoella and Lily Pebbles one day and I was amazed at the fact that these ordinary women were making a living of luxury from writing an online diary posted alongside photos they had taken, or taken of them by someone else. I quickly became hooked and checked in on their blogs daily.

 This is not my reality... | Photo by Winterbird

This is not my reality... | Photo by Winterbird

At the time, being my own boss of a tiny slice of the internet and having the creative freedom that running a blog could bring appealed a great deal to me. So in 2013 I started my own blog with the aim of one day leaving my miserable job behind and eventually doing it full-time.

Blogging became a positive outlet for me while I was working in a job that made me so ill, which meant it became a form of therapy too. But on a negative note, it became too easy to compare myself to all the other 'big' bloggers who I aspired to be like. Their lives always looked so well presented, they were always well dressed in the latest fashion trends, and jetted off to sunny holiday destinations. As the years moved on they seemed to become glossier and their photos more professional looking. Some even date photographers - win-win! Everything they did was turned into content to be posted on the internet, which in turn helped them to gain more followers. I quickly realised the reason why these bloggers and social media influencers were doing so well was because they were letting their audience into their lives in a way actual celebs hadn't really done before. These new type of 'celebrity' were more aspirational to us ordinary people because they were just like me and you. 

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It was during my final year of university, while writing my dissertation titled 'Constructing an Identity Using Social Media and Photography', that the blogosphere-bubble I'd been living in for so long finally popped. While researching into the topic I realised the obvious - how highly imagined and constructed these supposedly idolised social media influencer's lives actually are, and that they were famous even though they had no real talent. How times have changed!

Now a different type of obsession with the internet began - to deconstruct it...

I've made it no secret that my thoughts on social media and blogging has changed a lot over the past year, and I will soon be sharing how taking a step back from the internet has affected me positively by living more authentically. 

This post should also give you a good idea of what I'll be researching over the next two years for my Masters degree. I plan on using my blog to share some of my research and thoughts during this time, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything I'll be discussing too!


Credits: Photos of myslef by Winterbird