Digital Self

dshinbaum

“The ultimate goal of my web project Digital Self is to comment on body image, especially the way the body is portrayed on social media. The site communicates this message through the use of corrupt audiovisual representations of the self tinged with themes of codification, modularity, privileging the medium over the content and cyborgism.

I created each component of the NewHive by transcoding one medium into another form, editing it using processes unique to the new medium, and finally converting it back. For example, I might take a photo of myself and open it as audio in another program. I’ll tweak EQ, compression, reverb, delay, distortion and sequencing. Once I am satisfied with my changes, I export the audio and change it back into an image format. This process exploits the fact that everything that exists digitally is made up of binary code that can easily be transcoded between audio, images and text.

All of the source content for this project — photos, videos and audio — was recorded with my iPhone. This addresses the idea that new technologies have extended and transformed my body. My phone transforms my eyes when it records video; it transforms my voice when it plays back a voice memo.

In Digital Self, the representation of my body can be seen as distinctly transformed from its natural state as a result of its integration with technology. Instead of seeing skin, the viewer sees a collage of fluorescent color creeping over my body. Instead of hearing my organic voice, they hear the digital hiss of noise. My body has become so dependent on technology that it is merging with it, making me into a cyborg.

The work also draws on connections between social media and body images, showing how social media can perpetuate dissatisfaction with the body. However, it also offers social media as an alternative to embodiment. Social media reflects a desire to transcend physical being and instead become a digital enigma, freed from a clunky body. Leaving the physical world behind, the body is able to peacefully exist in a world that has become over-mediated by dependence on technology.” 

—Daniel Shinbaum ’18

Check out Digital Self here.

If you’re interested in submitting your own work, email thespark@macalester.edu, and we’ll turn your email into sound, then a photo, then send that back to you.

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