THIS IS NOT A JOKE: Highlight of My Day

Hugh Upsher is a Michaelis Graduate/ DTP Student/ Bartender/ Practicing Artist

I watched about half an hour of the movie ‘Annie Leibovitz: Life Through A Lens’ today. Photography has always interested me and frustrated me simultaneously, not brought on by photographs themselves but mainly by the people behind the lens. In the movie though, Anna Leibovitz spoke about how photographs are not intended to capture the essence of a person or reveal some form of truth. The photograph is a construction, a pose, a drawing, a choice etc. I did already know this even though I never quite finished Roland Barthes’ Camera Obscura. I have the majority of it photocopied in a box of notes I’m planning on throwing away soon.

Photo: Rose Kotze

Facebook is one big collective pose made up of images, interactions and text. A breathing shrine to oneself. A highly detailed self-portrait. It is a second life. An advertisement. Every choice one makes from status updates to the photos one uploads, to which groups one joins, they start to paint a picture. Photos are selected for albums in a similar way a curator would select work for a themed show. The idea is to tell a story more than anything else. The option of tagging, de-tagging and even reporting images reinforce this idea of moulding a particular character. In reality though, if someone wanted to write a thesis on a certain person, the Facebook profile of this certain person would not be a great reference. It doesn’t exactly translate into a textbook of the subject, more accurately it would be closer to a fantasy novel that romanticizes selected elements that may seem enticing.

This dangerously new digital arena is often misunderstood by it’s users and has been the reason for people not getting jobs, losing their jobs and losing the respect of friends and family. We are given the power to control our own image whether we know how to or not. Curating your own image has become an important must-know skill previously only practiced by celebrities in the public eye (Andy Warhol would have a very interesting Facebook profile). Although we are not famous to everyone in the world, we are famous to everyone we know. People’s moms, bosses, dogs and ex-girlfriends from prep school are all online now…watching.

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