The New Portrait
The New Portrait 8.9.14 - 9.6.14 Curated by Mathea Millman
"Technological advancements introduce a new way of conceptualizing, constructing, and imaging ourselves in a space somewhere between actuality and representation in the digital age. This gallery show aims to showcase artists who are interested in the concepts of self, identity and portraiture in relation to the integration of technology into our lives in the 21st century."
I submitted a four-part video installation, "Points of Resistance: Parts I-IV," for this gallery show in Brooklyn.
In his book The History of Sexuality, Vol. I: The Will of Knowledge the writer Michel Foucault describes a crucial relationship between dominant ideological forces and those who oppose it in a particular social hierarchy. He writes, “Where there is power, there is resistance, and yet, or rather consequently, this resistance is never in a position of exteriority in relation to power.” Foucault goes on to explain that this does not mean that resistance cannot shake itself from power, but rather it suggests that the connection between the two is much more nuanced the we originally thought. By the very act of resistance to power those opposing forces acknowledge the dominant forces they seek to subvert. Language was a very important part of Foucault’s philosophy throughout his entire career; he believed that language was the tool that power used to exert its influence. Language can be used to determine what things are discussed, how they are discussed, and with whom they are discussed. Resistance must use this dominant language in order to achieve its goals, effectively playing on the field that power had created.
I was interested in exploring this theory on a much smaller scale than Foucault’s. Rapidly advancing technology and social media have changed the way most people formulate their sense of self. Their identities, although they are as fluid and malleable as they have ever been, are broadcast in a way that was not possible a little over a decade ago. Our identities shape our profiles and our profiles shape our identities, and these profiles have perhaps become the principle instrument we use to interact with the rest of the world. They are the language and power of our public egos.
Social media does not exist without resistance to its ubiquity and I decided to use Foucault’s writing to map out this resistance. With some cues from Eastern philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and Alejandro Jodorowsky I created a series of short videos that are symbolic of this power/resistance relationship in the modern online identity. This series aims to illustrate the web of various points of resistance that go on within the subconscious and in the public sphere. Simply foregoing an active social media presence does not exempt an individual from social structure these new technologies have created; instead it becomes a facet of their whole self.