Often times targeted ads can be upsetting or triggering, especially to women who suffer with body dysmorphia or other weight or beauty related issues. As I did more and more work on the CONTROL series, the targeted ads on my social networks began to change, and suddenly they became very much directed at weight management and body image, with some even conflating fat content with self-worth and desirability. Social media was a place where I wanted to go to escape from being bombarded about body image from every TV and radio ad, but suddenly my safe space online was no longer safe. This prompted my exploration of digital glitch work.
The images this series were created by going into the hexadecimal code of the image files in order to purposefully glitch and destroy them. I started with nude self-portraits, and inside each image, I went into the code and added textual data to begin breaking and modifying the photo. The textual data used to break the images came from the hexadecimal code from a facebook ad geared at weight loss or body image.
After using the code from the ad to disrupt the code from the self-portrait, I then went back into the self-portrait and added in brief statements about how the ads made me feel about myself or my body. The textual data of each confession, fear, or anxiety further broke the self portrait, revealing this ugly glitch or interruption in the image.
Since glitching is a process that cannot be controlled, I wanted to re-establish some of that control in my process. So I took the glitched portraits, the facebook ads, and the code into Photoshop and began to composite them together. The above series shows the results of that process.
By allowing part of the glitched image, the ads, and the underlying code to come together, I'm working with the same language of code, control, structure, and layering to draw connections to societal structures, cultural paradigms, and unfair dichotomies that affect us all, both on the screen, and in real life.
A selection of this series was shown during Art | Basel Miami at the Koubek Center, Miami, FL in 2014.
This video was created using a glitch technique called "datamoshing" or "pixel-bending". This process allows the artist to intentionally break the video codec, revealing the underlying structure of the programing language associated with digital files.
In this piece, I'm using 2 source videos found on youtube: one of a 10 year old girl at a dance competition, the other of an adult female dancing erotically as a promotional video for a strip club. In "moshing" these two videos together, I'm forcing the comparison of the over-sexualization of women's bodies. I'm also calling attention to the implication of sexualizing young girls too soon. The native audio tracks where left in the finished piece. I feel the songs with lyrics reinforce some of the topics I'm hoping to address with the piece. "Work. I'm here to Work. I am a professional" blares on in the background as the image of a little girl twerking is dissolved into the truncated and fetishized rear-end of an exotic dancer.
In using datamoshing, I'm revealing the "structure" of the videos. When watching, we are seldom aware of the underlying rigidity of the coding and programing which allows us to see movement and videos digitally. I wanted to call attention to this digital structure, as a way of drawing comparison to our cultural structures. These cultural structures reinforce gender binaries, propagate unfair pressures on young girls to be beautiful, and continue to perpetuate the notion that sexual desirability, above all, is what women should strive to achieve.
By using this technique to combine these videos, I'm ultimately breaking the structure as a way to reveal it is there. In breaking the video's codecs and structure, I'm making a connection to the structures society culture forces upon women, and hoping by revealing it's existence, we can one day break through it as well.
This piece screened at Art | Basel Miami at the Koubek Center, Miami, FL in 2014.