Our third assignment this semester was to create a piece based on our digital identity. There are many paths one might go down with this prompt, whether that is exploring how technology impacts our lives, how we might edit how we present ourselves in an online format, or something entirely different.
Unlike the previous two assignments, the inspiration did not hit me quickly or easily for this one, and it took days to even begin sketching. I had to run to Hobby Lobby on the weekend anyway, so while I was there I wandered around hoping a certain surface would spark some inspiration for the assignment. I found this small raw wood shadowbox in the crafting aisle, and it piqued my interest enough that I bought it. After gessoing the compartment walls and bottom, I sat for a while thinking about why I chose this object and what to paint inside of it.
In considering how I present ‘Aisling’ online, I realized that there is a certain amount of protection that goes into my public online spaces, particularly on social media. On Facebook, I have a lot of personal info available, but only for those I am friends with on there – any person who stumbles upon my page only sees my profile picture and some basic info about me. The only other social media I use daily is Instagram, and though both of my profiles are set to public, I am still very careful about what gets posted there. For my art Instagram in particular, I always crop the image or take the photo at an odd angle in an attempt to prevent art thieves from reposting my work or trying to copy what I’ve done and passing it off as theirs. My personal Instagram does not contain much in-depth info about me, and I primarily use it for travel photography or little things in my day-to-day life, but as it is set to public, I am still careful about what I post.
After thinking about my social media identity in relation to the shadowbox, I began to wonder what basic things a total stranger might be able to glean about me based on my personal Instagram feed. It’s obvious from my (albeit few) selfies that I wear glasses daily, and they have become a part of my identity both in real life and online. It’s obvious that I love my dog, based on how many photos of him I’ve posted over the years, and I have many photos from concerts as well, so there are two compartments for those. I follow a lot of tattoo shops and artists because I love tattooing culture, and every year I post at least a few Halloween-y photos since it’s my favorite holiday. It is fairly obvious that I love to travel and search for art and architecture wherever I go. Lastly: Ireland feels like home.
I very much enjoy using social media and technology as a whole and I do not see it as a scourge on society, which I think is a common viewpoint among many people today, in particular the older generations. It’s like anything else, where if it’s used responsibly and correctly, it can be a great benefit and lead to even further advancements. A part of using it responsibly is vetting what sort of information and images you share in this everlasting public space. Although there is not much conceptual development in the painted images themselves, by placing them in this physical, lockable object, I believe it conveys the sense of security that is important for my digital identity.
Shadowbox (open) (2018)