Jonathan Rdefern


Inauthentic self


Inauthentic self is a theme that runs through this entire project. While online, one is constantly being observed by an audience. This for the most part, is neither a good nor bad detail of being on social media. The act of being on social media can be compared to the Panopticon; this is a circular tower within a round chamber lined with cells.

The watchman resides in the ‘panopticon’ and can look into any cell without being seen. This leads to the inmates believing that they are always being watched. This is a metaphor for what social media is, constant surveillance by peers and strangers. The aim of this project is to show by taking this fact and altering one’s behaviour online via the HCI application Instagram, can lead to professional artistic promotion. One can be sure that the many watchmen of the Internet are interested in viewing one’s online Instagram account. A motivation behind this exploration is from previous research regarding artists who have used various forms of social media as an artistic and design medium. Carrie Kerpen in her writing ‘How has social media changed us?’, says to successfully use social media, one must be in the mind of an unashamed tech enthusiast, confident in oneself and have an ability to adapt to new rising technology.

At present, an Inauthentic self is an exaggeration of one's personality and physical traits, but it is important not stray too far from oneself as an individual in order to remain credible. From researching many artists and designers, recurring characteristics of such artists are blurring the lines between fact and fiction, alienation, community, a constructed nature of identity and the obsession with physical appearance.

This can be described as contingent self-esteem, where confidence is based on the constant approval of others. Seriality or serial form is described by Ruth Page as a social construct that takes the form of labels, which are assigned to or adopted by an individual. This can be applied to creating a story using hashtags and captions on Instagram and various other social media platforms. This project demonstrates that by taking physical attributes like appearance, gender, and sexuality, that one can exaggerate the behaviors of these qualities assigned by society and create an Inauthentic self that attracts interest to oneself as an artist or designer.

This is a study of deception and imagery; the discussion of these topics pays specific attention to using them as a form of self-promotion and an outlet for exploring the emerging relationship between artistic expression and technology.

The main component of this project is the creation of an artistic installation that created a ‘panopticon' space for participants in real time to feel the influence the unseen watchman has upon them. Essentially the installation is a real-life commentary on online personas on social media.

Jonathan Rdefern