[NetBehaviour] Digimag 75 / Spring Issue - Digital Identities, Self Narratives - International Call for Papers

Patrick Lichty pl at voyd.com
Tue Apr 18 13:07:38 CEST 2017

Is this papers or abstracts?

In February 2017, I began a project called The Horror of the Gaze, in 
which I used the Chinses selfie program Meitu to “cutify” nearly 100 
artists, scholars and curators from around the world. These “Cute” 
versions of my community began to circulate, and questions of privacy, 
control of personal images, colonialism, and the politics of “whiteness” 
arose. In Our Aesthetic Categories, Sianne Ngai discusses the mediation 
of the “Zany” and “Cute” and “Interesting” as obfuscating affective 
issues of hypercommodification, colonialization, and stereotyping. Each 
obscures hidden agendas of objectification and hidden anger.As with the 
Japanese artist Takeshi Murakami whose smiling “Mr DOB” is a 
post-nuclear nationalistic reappropriation of Mickey Mouse, “cuteness” 
is often a scrim for other, darker agendas. In the case of Meitu, it is 
a double signifier for the Asian perception of paleness, and cuteness, 
which are distinctly different from the Western perceptions of the 
aesthetics used in the app (paleness, large, watering eyes, pronounced 
lips). It is important to consider the conflation of racial and cultural 
tropes in play by the use of these apps.How does one culture’s digital 
selfie filters map onto others?Gayatri Spivak, in the Translation 
Studies Reader, states that accuracy in translation requires affect for 
the subject, and do these modes of production have these qualities? 
Grusin and Bolter in their seminal book reMediation, describe the 
agendas that are imposed by passing through the computer. And lastly, if 
McLuhan’s adage of the medium being the message is true, what can we 
ascertain is being said by Meitu remediations of cultural identity?

In this talk, I wish to deconstruct the affect of cuteness in the 
augmentation of selfie apps for cell phones like Meitu (China) and 
Snapchat (USA).Examples under consideration will include notable 
augmented Snapchat selfies, and my project, Horror of the Gaze, which 
includes nearly 100 New Media art celebrities, detournements of famous 
despots and remediations of glamour models to test aesthetic 
amplification. Also, if implemented, I will discuss the installation of 
“Make Karachi Cute Again”, a Facebook-based installation in which I will 
ask members of the Karachi community to submit their portraits for 
“cutification” by Chinese workers using the Meitu app and placing it 
back online.What is most interesting in all these cases is the remapping 
of affect through these transformation and their amplification or 
draining of meaning.

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