Mobile Performance: Social Media Usage in Kasia Molga’s The…
The mobile nature of smartphones and related devices sees everyday life as a series of performances. In a world where a “social media presence” is just as important as a presence in “real” life, mobile technology now dictates everything from what we eat (so we can put it on Instagram) to who we hang out with (so we can tag them on Facebook). When we follow any particular social media feed, we witness this series of performances in a constant stream.
This constant connection to our mobile world questions the authenticity of our thoughts and experiences. If life events are essentially performed for the sake of a tweet, to what extent are they genuine? Have we stopped “doing for the sake of living” in order to create more seemingly dynamic and exciting experiences? Are we, therefore, actually living or just catering to the attentions of our audience?
One way we can consider the effects of social media is through its intersection with the contemporary art world. Social media has allowed us to connect with galleries and artists on this performative level, receiving information and inspiration from these sources on a daily basis. Galleries become proprietors of art world knowledge and we can practically discover their collections and content without actually visiting them. In addition, many contemporary artists have employed social media in their own works. Web artist Brian Piana’s Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter, for example, is a real-time collage made from the tweets by people the artist follows on Twitter. The tweets are reduced to a representational colour (based from the user’s avatar) and placed on a grid that represents every individual tweet that has come through the artist’s Twitter feed. Through this generative work, Piana exposes social media as both a device to cultivate a digital presence, and as a device that can simultaneously reduce the value of one’s message to a wall of anonymous colour.
Based on feeds from Twitter, Kasia Molga’s interactive installation, The… explores the idea of social media as a mobile performance and questions the authenticity of our collective thought process. Inspired by David Bohm’s concept of the origins of thought, Molga is interested in determining if our own thoughts are purely influenced by the ideas of others. In Molga’s installation, each tweet represents an “original” thought. Her employment of social media is essential to this project because it presents a seemingly thoughtless stream of messages that burdens the viewer with the task of deciphering true original content.
The… is generated with the use of a Kinect controller that detects the body shapes of the gallery’s visitors. A set of algorithms pulls tweets that feature a specific hashtag from a live Twitter feed. The tweets float for a few seconds above the bodily shapes on screen, interacting with the viewers’ gestures. The tweets become conversational pieces and viewers can theoretically alter what appears on the screen by sending another tweet with the chosen hashtag.
Digital media is an important medium in Molga’s art practice, which seeks to deal with the “aesthetics of interconnectedness.” This state of interconnectivity allows for a constant awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of those around us. By performing a mobile persona cultivated through social media, we are always constructing and re-constructing the stories of our lives. Our followers, often friends, family, and co-workers, are therefore privy to our everyday experiences without even conversing with us.
More information about Kaisa Molga’s work can be found on her website.
- Victoria Nolte
Mobile Performance is a reoccurring A&SJ series that explores contemporary digital art practices with a particular focus on the use of mobile technologies. This article is the first edition of the series.