Advertising Identities: Virtual Galleries as Places of Identity
The internet has allowed geographical and social spaces to be opened, while simultaneously encouraging self-conscious alienation. This phenomenon has been exasperated by the Western democratic-capitalist ideal of possessive individualism.
These conditions clear the path for the pseudo-artist. An artist who uses the internet reflexively, to validate their ego. Their sense of self-assurance comes from the feedback that they receive from other online users. Users that, most likely, do not represent themselves in a truthful light.
Postmodern times allow and encourage such obviously unintelligible behavior. Virtual galleries create an environment conducive for the public proliferation of nonsense.
As amateur photographers strive to become professionals - to reach the venerated artistic sphere of highbrow art - they spew out a great deal of illegitimate work. Untrained and unaware that passion, not consumption, is the true measure of a professional.
How has the internet opened a new course for professional photographic development? Virtual galleries facilitate the development of virtual collectivity in time and space. The collective social conscious has undergone a metamorphosis. New spatial and temporal dimensions allow the customization of individual identity. This is the postmodern self-crisis.
The photographic medium has a significant amount of power over conserving or altering one’s condition. This situation reflects the larger phenomenon in Western culture where images are no longer regarded solely as representations of reality. Images have become identities.
“... taking photographs is not anymore a primary act of memory with the social function of portraying the family moments, but it has become an instrument of forming and communicating individual identity (177).”
Photography, as the identity manufactured, is beyond this dichotomy. It is beyond the social definition of high/low-brow art.
These images are not mass-produced, they are a means by which to communicate a certain visual rhetoric. Virtual galleries and online identities transform personal photographs into a place of self-exposure for critique.