The exhibition raises questions about the ways in which we seek validation from social media and, ultimately, explores how we behave when everyone is watching. New commissions, research and existing work presents a wide range of experiences and views of image.
In a world where we use Instagram "likes" and YouTube views to assess who and what is important, and fame is just a click away, what impact is the Internet really having on how we think about ourselves and those around us?
Follow investigates how we understand image and identity as ever-changing concepts which can be bought, sold, mimicked, endorsed, deleted and validated through a single click—as well as exploring methods to survive, subvert and utilise social media.
The exhibition raises questions about the ways in which we seek validation from social media and, ultimately, explores how we behave when everyone is watching.
New commissions, research and existing work will present a wide range of experiences and views of image, self-branding, identity, sharing and micro-celebrity within the context of a life lived online. Exhibition highlights include new work by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner, Cécile B. Evans, Debora Delmar Corp., Joe Orr, Ant Hamlyn, Aram Bartholl, Louise Adkins, Simon Whybray, and Candice Jacobs, and restaged work by Constant Dullaart and Kurdwin Ayub, exhibited across two galleries and in public spaces around FACT.
In our online lives, brand and identity have become interchangeable terms, celebrity is a currency, and the very concept of what we mean by "real" is up for grabs. By using the language of marketing for the promotion and distribution of our own image, we become the advertisement, embodying the product, the lifestyle, the brand. But what does the use of, and the value we place in, online profiles and social media mean for the ways in which we think of our followers, our idols, and ourselves?
In July 2012, YouTube opened the doors of the Creator Space in the centre of London, advertised as a "free" resource but available only to those YouTubers with 1000+ subscribers. FACTLab returns for this exhibition to Gallery 2 in the guise of a pop-up production studio, where FACT staff will be on hand to help visitors create their own tutorials, film reviews, and any other potentially viral content.
Throughout the exhibition, there will be a public programme of events, talks and workshops encouraging visitors to further explore themes from the exhibition, including a series of films highlighting how technology and connectivity affect our relationships and privacy, as well as what we sacrifice (or gain) when we live our lives in public. Manchester-based artist Louise Adkins has designed a programme of workshops which explores themes of "realness," online identity and behaviours through a restaging of popular TED talks, questioning the reasons why we produce online videos in the ways we do.
In addition, for Follow we will transform the FACT foyer into the Bookmarks resource space. Here, visitors will find their guide to the Follow realm: a number of different resources which have contributed to the research and development of the exhibition. This interactive archive includes everything from academic articles looking at online behaviour to celebrity-made games which epitomise or monetise the contemporary obsession with celebrity.
The library will also provide a backdrop to an informal talks programme, delivered by the curators and artists involved in the exhibition.
Follow is curated by Amy Jones and Lesley Taker at FACT, with thanks to Mike Stubbs and Ana Botella.
Statutory funders: Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council.
Image: Joe Orr
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FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology)
88 Wood Street Liverpool, L1 4DQ
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