Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Girl Code: Constructions of Femininity and Fame

Let me just disclose, first off, that I wanted to do a lot more with this project than I was able to. I made all of my final projects this term way too ambitious, and they all suffered for it. That said, this is a topic that I think about a lot, and hope to continue making art about it in the future.

The goal of this project was to focus on the effects of fame from a New Media point of view, exploring ideas of simulation, falseness, and exaggeration. I wanted to focus on women in the public eye because for many famous women, public attention is pushed away from their work itself and focused on their personal lives and appearances, so they are forced to spend much of their time cultivating their public image.

Many artists and performers have used this phenomenon to enhance their art by making their celebrity a work of art in itself. This is what I chose to focus on for the last suite of images I edited for this project. I took snapshots from music videos in which the artists gaze at the audience with a confrontational, knowing, vulnerable, or otherwise unexpected expression. These are all shots that I felt showed the self-awareness of these artists and the implicit challenge in that self-awareness. I wanted to enhance the sense of artificiality and construction by making the viewer reflect on all the layers of digital media, publicity work, and artistic intent that exist between the viewer and the subject of the image, and making these penetrating gazes that much more impressive.

Janelle Monáe, "Q.U.E.E.N."

Joanna Newsom, "Divers"

Bjork, "Hunter"

Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"

Beyonce, "Pretty Hurts"
I also made a music video, partially out of a long-standing desire to start an all-female band on campus and partially to feel like I was actually creating something substantial rather than just editing photos. Here is my attempt at an artist's statement for the video, followed by the video itself:

"What is this video supposed to be? Is it simply a sloppy attempt to assemble a girl band? Is it a statement about the infantilizing, patronizing, and minimizing of the work of female artists and performers? Are their heads out of frame to create some semblance of anonymity and universality? Or to remove the focus on the performers' physical appearances? Or to distance them from the audience? Are the performers haughty? Are they naïve? Are they talentless? Are they bored? Why are they using toy instruments? I couldn't say– the final judgement, as always, lies with the audience."


Thanks for a great term, and in the words of Jean Baudrillard, 

"You no longer watch TV, TV watches you"