Reflective Essay 1
Tweets From The Underground
Tweets from the Underground draws parallels between Twitter users and Dostoevsky’s existential anti-hero, the Underground Man (Dostoevsky 1864).
The modern Underground Man hides himself behind a computer screen, his anonymity shielded by a Twitter handle, and his journal, a series of 140 or less characters, is written for an audience, aware that they’ll likely never be read. Recent research identified that 71% of tweets go unseen (Geere 2010).
The work explores themes of social media and social isolation, participation and interaction, connection and disconnection (technically, culturally and ideologically).
This connects 19th Century Russian existentialism with Hartley’s examination of digital literacy, whereby a similar ‘critical self-loathing’ and ‘turning […] against the intellectuals […] to self-indulgence’ results in a ‘refusal to engage’. ‘Cultural opportunity’ and ‘freedom’ are replaced by contempt, spite and petty-mindedness (2007, p. 9)
I shot a dimly lit scene within a UTS communal study area (Image 1a). In it’s first iteration (Image 1b), I layered the image the ten most recent tweets from around the world which contained “#i”.
The quote from Geere (2010) in ‘Twitter’ blue was represented literally and symbolically by the re-colouring of three out of the ten tweets with an off-white background. I then included Dostoevsky’s quote at the very bottom of the image, physically alluding to the ‘underground’.
Attempting to convey the same message in a less literal manner, I created three more iterations (Image 1c, 1d and 1e) with the Geere (2010) quote removed and requests for peer feedback. Cropped framing, blurring of distant objects and the desaturation background elements were used to create depth of field and lead the viewer’s gaze from the darkness of the lower foreground, up through the yellow lights towards the intended focal point. Tweets were also given tails to tie them to the people in the image. A small amount of colour was left on the user at the top right, to separate them symbolically from the others.
The final iteration (Image 1) better directs the viewer’s gaze by flipping the image horizontally, so it reads from left to right. Taking on peer feedback, background colours were further desaturated and the illegibility and isolation of the bottom tweets was emphasised through decreased opacity and a ‘diffusion’ filter.
Reflective Essay 2
Community Standards (2016)
Influenced by Jenkins’ (2015) examination of meaningful participation and Poole’s (2006) description of Network agency distribution and diffusion, Community Standards (2016) seeks to explore the dangerous affect of corporately controlled media platforms that enforce their own community standards.
The work explores three examples of these community double standards in relation to gender equality issues: silencing of speech, detraction of debate, and sexualisation of the female body.
The first work depicts Rihanna’s Instagram account, which was disabled shortly after her posting of topless photos (Toomey 2014). After such an event, the user is effectively silenced and left with no method of reply or rebuttal, highlighting power of the Network and the illusion of user agency.
The second work alludes to the public discussion generated as a result of Facebook’s suspension of Clementine Ford’s account (Dent 2015). The work portrays the common practice of those who respond to expressions of feminist struggle with diversionary statements, which devalue and diminish the message.
The third work is an appropriation of Andy Warhol’s eminent pop art series (1967), replacing Marilyn Monroe with a picture of a male nipple, to question the definition of a sex symbol and the sexualisation and discrimination of female nipples within these community standards.
The depiction of these themes as classical artworks mounted in a gallery symbolises the long-running history of societal restrictions on gender equality. The antique gold frames, which surround and enclose these women’s issues, represent the rigidity and inescapability of established patriarchal structures.
The lone, seated female figure in the foreground, passively contemplating the artworks, explores the tension between one’s ‘power to affect the world around us and our power to be affected by it’ (Hardt 2007, p.1).
The first iteration of this work was screenshot made from my iPhone (Image 2a).
After receiving feedback regarding the level of technical refinement, I replaced the original image with Botticelli’s Venus, covered by a mute button and male nipple (Image 2b). I also included a speech bubble, emanating from the male figure, with the quote #NotAllMen. I saturated and darkened the background image and increased focus on the ‘edits’ by using the bevel outline tool, outer shading and a red outer glow, to signify correction.
The Instagram frame, Rihanna’s avatar, and the renaming of Instagram account to ‘CommunityStandards’ using the Instagram typeface, identified the source of these ‘edits’ and alluded to the takeover of Rihanna’s account by community standards.
After further feedback, I took on the suggestion that both images could be combined into one if framed side-by-side, with antique frames replacing the Instagram frame.
To give the antique frames context, I created an art gallery scene (Image 2c). Superimposing a dark, solitary female figure, shot from directly behind, creates empathy and a combines the woman’s interpretation of the artworks with the overall meaning of the work.
For visual balance, I created a third ‘artwork’ (Image 2d). The same image, desaturated and increased in contrast, is treated with a variety of different hues to emulate Warhol’s Marilyn series (Image 2d).
A sense of realism and compositional cohesiveness was achieved through the adjustment of RGB levels, artificial lighting and shadows, gradient colour backgrounds to match the art gallery layer and background with each image.
Lastly, the rule of thirds was applied to the overall composition to direct the viewer’s gaze through a series of focal points to convey the individual of each artwork and overall meaning of the image.
Ethical Aspects of Production
I photographed the original image in Image 1. I did not gather consent from the people in this image because they were unidentifiable in the final work. Consent from the location owners at UTS was also not obtained. As the copyright for the content of each tweet was likely not owned by the users themselves (Shinen 2009), I have instead included each Twitter user’s account in the reference list.
I tried to attribute all of the copyright owners of the images in Image 2, but couldn’t find some via Google reverse image search. I have instead included their websites in the reference list.
These remain ethically produced images because they are used for academic purposes only, relying on Fair Dealing, an exception to copyright infringement (National Copyright Guidelines 2016).
(Note to the reader:
For the purposes of this document, the screenshots of Twitter posts have been referenced in accordance with Elaine Lally’s document titled Further Information on Referencing Screenshots and Images from the Web, posted to Digital Literacies forum of UTS Online, 22 September 2016.
This is as opposed to the Blog or Tweet formatting of referencing, as outlined in the Interactive Harvard UTS Referencing Guide, page 26.
This was decided on the basis that the tweets were being used as images, not content.)
Andriana. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/iRaped_You/status/781727659374116865>.
Czsekalla, M. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/MobilMichael>.
Baffour. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, < https://twitter.com/Baffy_>.
Dostoevsky, F. 1864, Записки из подполья, Zapiski iz podpol’ya (Notes from Underground), Epoch, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Dostoevsky, F. 1994, Notes from Underground, in ‘Translations of Dostoevsky by Pevear and Volokhonsky, trans. By Pevear and Volokshonsky, Vintage Books, Random House Inc., New York.
Hartley, J. 2009, ‘Repurposing Literacy’, in The Uses of Digital Literacy, pp.1-38.
Henderson, S. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/__sabrinaa_>.
Lane, E. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/Lie_Plain_Sight>.
Megan. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/_tiny_terror>.
National Copyright Guidelines 2016, Smartcopying, viewed 28 October 2016, <http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/glossary/glossary/fair-dealing>.
Mr. Fresh Guy. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/TheGeneraLMD20>.
Sarah. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/cutiepieleafy>.
Shinen, B. 2009, ‘Twitterlogical: The misunderstandings of ownership’, Shinen Law Corporation, viewed 28 October 2016, < http://www.canyoucopyrightatweet.com/>.
The Statistics Portal 2016, Twitter: number of monthly active users 2010-2016, New York, viewed 30 August 2016, <http://www.statista.com/statistics/282087/number-of-monthly-active-twitterusers/>.
TweetsftUnderground. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, <https://twitter.com/UndergroundTwat>.
Twitter 2016, Terms of Service, viewed 28 October 2016, <https://twitter.com/tos>.
Geere, D. 2010, ‘It’s Not Just You: 71 percent of tweets are ignored’, Wired, Canberra, viewed 30 August 2016, <http://www.wired.com/2010/10/its-not-just-you-71-percent-of-tweets-are-ignored/>.
Zirakchi, R. 2016, Twitter, screenshot, viewed 30 September 2016, < https://twitter.com/RisaZirakchi>.
3D.SK 2016, ‘Nipple Texture of Frederick 0001’, Human Photo References for 3D Artists and Game Developers, viewed 26 October 2016, <https://www.3d.sk/photos/show?id=566268>.
Badgalriri 2016, Instagram post, viewed 8 October 2016, <https://www.instagram.com/p/BK9brs2ATlm/?taken-by=badgalriri&hl=en>.
Botticelli, S. 1445-1510, Birth of Venus, painting, WikiCommons, viewed 27 October 2016, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sandro_Botticelli_-_La_nascita_di_Venere_-_Google_Art_Project_-_edited.jpg>.
Coco, N. 2016, ‘Gold Frame’, The Power of Color, viewed 26 October 2016, <http://www.ninococo.it/>.
Dent, G. 2015, ‘The Day Facebook Banned Clementine Ford’, Women’s Agenda, viewed 8 October 2016, <http://www.womensagenda.com.au/talking-about/item/5923-the-day-facebook-banned-clementine-ford>.
Duncan, E.K. 2016, ‘Vintage Frame’, Deviant Art, viewed 26 October 2016, <http://eveyd.devianart.com>.
Falade, A. 2015, ‘Facebook, Instagram Face Criticism Over Boob Censorship #FreeTheNipple’, ID Africa, viewed 19 October 2016, <http://www.idafrica.ng/facebook-instagram-face-criticism-over-boob-censorship-freethenipple/>.
Free The Nipple 2016, Free The Nipple: How far will you go for equality, Free The Nipple movement, viewed 8 October 2016, < http://freethenipple.com/>.
Hardt, M. 2007, ‘Foreword: What affects are good for’ in Halley, J. & Clough, C.P., The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social, Duke University Press, pp.ix-xiii.
Jenkins, H., Ito, M., & boyd, d. 2015, ‘Defining Participatory Culture’, in Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics, Polity, Chapter 1.
Polyvore 2016, Black and Gold Antique Frame, viewed 26 October 2016, <http://www.polyvore.com/black_gold_antique_frame_harry/thing?id=25092766>.
Poole, S. 2006, ‘Tragedy’, Unspeak, Grove Press, New York, pp.75-100.
Roper, C. 2016, ‘In the Art Gallery’, Speckyboy Design Magazine, viewed 26 October 2016, <https://speckyboy.com/the-difference-between-visual-art-and-graphic-design/>.
Taualai 2016, Ringer Silent image, iPhone screenshot, Apple Inc, viewed 8 October 2016.
Toomey, A. 2014, ‘Bye-Bye BadGalRiri? Rihanna Blasts Instagram Imposter and Confirms “I Do Not Have an IG Account”’, E News, viewed 8 October 2016, <http://www.bet.com/news/music/2014/05/21/rihanna-confirms-she-quit-instagram.html>.
Warhol, A. 1967, Marilyn, screenprint, Museum Of Modern Art, New York, viewed 27 October 2016, <https://www.moma.org/collection/works/61240>.
‘Vintage Frame’ by EK Duncan available at http://eveyd.deviantart.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Full terms at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
‘Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Botticelli available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sandro_Botticelli_-_La_nascita_di_Venere_-_Google_Art_Project_-_edited.jpg under a Public Domain license.