Saturday, June 6, 2009

Facebook aesthetics

I am fascinated / horrified by the time I've spent on Facebook lately. Some things I've learned:

My friends list is only a fraction of the people I've met in my life-time, but how to find friends from grade 1? This makes me feel both connected and puts into perspective the earth's current overpopulation. I also feel less isolated in my southwest outpost, but how to generate dialogue that's more important than, say, "I feel shaken today not stirred"?

© Cecil Beaton

Why / how do people choose to represent themselves? Do pictures truly capture a person's being? Is a picture of a celebrity good because we already know the attributes of that persona? Is that picture really how you want to represent yourself to the world?

Some image genres I've noticed on Facebook (I will use stand-ins to not embarass anyone, or myself):

--eyeballs shot from up close (exaggerated demonstration above)
--babies / pets as stand-ins
--glam / mouth wide open (Pretty Woman syndrome)
--related to above: too cool for school
--related to above: groovy hipsters
--what were they thinking? (Jerry Lewis wannabe, see above)
--not sure I want to be here, so maybe you'll see my face, maybe not (fake coy)
--thinking outside the box: giant white lego Jesus, Charles Manson, cartoon characters (lots of Simpsons & South Park), Obama
--suicidal (luckily rather rare)
--creepy--is this deliberate or inadvertent?
--lampshade head
--goat head

Strict use policy:
--include the Pyramids but only if you're from Egypt

And finally, my vote for most graphically intriguing names:

I find looking at Facebook pictures as fascinating as finding friends. Both tell me something about the world we live in, but as an art historian, I've got to have the pictures.

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