One of the things that I love most about being a conceptual photographer is looking at an object, person or place and allowing the Universe to pour inspiration into me on all that these things could be. This triptych is called “Masquerade” and individually the pieces are titled: “Unhealthy Routine”, “Filtered Love” and “Can’t Function Without You”. Masquerade can be adapted into anything that creates an addiction and/or strips us of our identity. For me, I wanted to create a body of work that was influenced by technology, more specifically social media on our mobile devices.
Lately, I have been finding a true unhealthy addiction and relationship with social media – more specifically Instagram. Social media is a beautiful thing because it allows us to connect and reach more people. Through it, I have made friendships with artists from around the world. It has allowed me to connect even more with my tribe. It truly is a beautiful thing. However, it is really easy to get lost in the numbers and the fake followers.
There are days where I just completely lose myself in it. I am not proud. It is an addiction where I can no longer see or feel who I am. On these days, I feel almost dirty… Like I somehow sold myself for the likes and follows – gave the best of myself for a little attention.
As I was working on Masquerade, I set my phone on the other side of the room so that I could be more productive in my editing… I could feel a twitch inside of me that WANTED to check my Instagram and get that instant gratification. Did my friends like my new story? Did they answer my poll question? Are my regulars still watching? Did someone comment on my new post? Do I have new followers? And on. That’s where I realized that I had allowed Instagram to become something that I needed in order to get a quick rush. I felt ashamed but at the same time I also realized just how much I was using it as a crutch of sorts.
And that is one of the things that I wanted to address in this series because I have heard so much chatter about this. SO many people are voicing their frustrations about all of the fake accounts on Instagram and questioning whether it is worth it to keep posting. Well, I know that I have addressed this before in my posts but OF COURSE IT IS. I have a good 10-20 fans who are ALWAYS there for me and who have TOLD me that my words and/or work has helped them in some way.
Now, I don’t know how deep of an impact I make but if I stopped and my words/imagery no longer helped them to reflect or smile – what disservice would I be doing to my community?
I plan to keep going and putting in the work and not succumbing to unethical practices of growing my audience. Everyday, as I dive deep into curiosity and imagination, I am finding myself as an artist more and more. It is my choice to create most of my artwork for myself and not to please someone else (unless it’s a commission and then I work with my client to create something they will love in my style). I have created work strictly for others before and I went so far down the rabbit hole that I forgot to embrace the fact that I was an artist first.
Masquerade is really about losing ourselves and identity. No matter what, you have lost it too, we all lose it to something at one point or another – even if it is just for a brief period of time. Whether it be a lover we try to change ourselves for, a persona we try to shape ourselves into, or saying what we think others want to hear so that we can be accepted by them. No one will really escape this, the question then becomes if you are able to find yourself again.
Are we incarcerating ourselves in things that we give too much value to? Do we hold these things on such a high pedestal that we ourselves become unrecognizable? What about the relationships that we have? Are we still recognizable to each other or have we allowed our environment to change us so much that we no longer communicate through words and touch?
I want to hear your thoughts about losing your identity. Please share them in the comments below if you are comfortable.
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