The endless electronic messages and stimulus we receive from social media and other visual sources cause us to analyse and judge ourselves extensively through the eyes of others. The self is eroded and broken down. As a result, we find ourselves changing who we appear to be to meet the expectations of others. In Fractured Identities, photographer Jo Sutherst uses performance and self-portraiture to explore the ways in which social media affects the ways in which we present ourselves. Using a series of often comical props and cosmetics designed to enhance appearance, Sutherst explores the world of the media generated selfie.
Each of us has control over our online representation. We have complete and absolute control over our devices. We can post, text, tweet and update whatever we want. Our devices allow us to show the world who we want to be seen as. Yet we are detached and isolated from the viewer. We do not exchange conversation other than through text. We can edit every selfie so that we get it just as we want it. We fine tune, write and rewrite every caption so that it delivers the correct message. We can post whatever we want, without thinking twice. We often come across as completely different people in our online and offline relationships.
We cannot gauge another’s response to the image or caption. We do not receive face to face feedback, and we lack the self-perception that comes with a real-life relationship. Behind the screens of our computers and phones, we can portray ourselves exactly the way we want. We cannot always do this in real life.
Through our ever-increasing use of technology, we are invited to rewrite our identities. How can we know if what we are looking at is true – or not?
Born in Coventry and now based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, Jo is an engineer, teacher and photographer. Shortlisted for the Picfair Women Behind the Lens award in 2018, Jo is interested in the psychology and emotions behind self-portraiture and what is actually feels like to be human in an ever increasingly online world. She is currently in the final stages of her MA in Photography at Falmouth University.