Project Concept and Scope
Meet Social Media Me is a project that aims to explore the online social media profiles of real people and reintroduces them as an animated character based on public information displayed on their profile. As the artist and the “cyberstalker”, my goal is to develop these characters using the information and photos accessible to me as a public visitor of their profile. This project combines the traditional practice of drawing and the different avenues of digital media such as social media, photography, and videography. Meet Social Media Me is a collection of minute long animations that each focus on a different character. A majority of images, scenes, and sounds within the animations are all reference to and based off of the online presence of these individuals. Paired with animations, are the words of the cyberstalker who narrates the story of these individuals from an outsider’s perspective, providing context and information to viewers. The collection of animations can be viewed and accessed by anyone on the YouTube channel "Meet Social Media Me".
Character SELECTION PROCESS
I began my first search of characters simply by going to Facebook and clicking on my “People You May Know” page. Although Facebook tends to be spot on with friend suggestions, a good few tend to be suggestions of people I have never seen or met before. After researching the reason why facebook suggests friends to people you’ve never met before, I found interesting information. One explanation suggests that Facebook uses data location to suggest friends to people. Meaning, at some point, I was in the same space at the same time with some of these people on the suggested list. Another explanation suggests that facebook imports contacts from other sources and accounts linked to your phone, such as instagram and phone numbers. Facebook denies both of these claims and regardless of whether or not they’re true, we know that friend suggestions is based on an algorithm of some sort because of the fact that Facebook is a programed based network. I looked over 50 facebook profiles before selecting the main characters of this project. These characters were chosen because they varied from one another and displayed a unique presence online which made them interesting subjects to develop. Each character has a different relation to me - one I share about a dozen mutual friends with (2nd degree relation), another I share zero friends with but are friends with people who are friends with my friends (3rd degree relation), and the last one is friends with friends of friends from my friends list (4th degree relation).
MEET the characters
ARTIST - NARRATOR - CYBERSTALKER
It’s socially expected and assumed that everyone has some sort of online presence nowadays. All you need is a name or fact about a person, type it in the search bar, and viola you found them online. When a profile is public, you take the time to go through pictures and their feed. When a profile is private, you think of it as a challenge and keep digging. It’s a process that makes you feel both accomplished and obsessive. A few minutes spent on their profile is what gets you to believe you know exactly the kind of person they are. I’ve gotten to know three people really well of the course of these past few months. But are they who I think they are or am I wrong?
IMPORTANT NOTE: The following character animation is based on the social media profile of a real person. All material included was accessed from a public viewer’s perspective of the profile. Every character has been given an alias to protect their identity and not expose them.
“I’d like to draw a picture for you of San Diego’s Scripps Coastal Reserve. Meet Jin, a college student and a California native from Calabasas who’s about 5’6” but then again I wouldn’t know because I’ve never actually met or seen him in person. He visits this place at least once a week and can be spotted wearing his circular shades with a camera around his neck. If his style doesn’t scream “Californian”, his photos sure do. Scripps is “forever one of his favorite places” as captioned in his one too many pictures of this place. Scroll through entire his feed, you’ll find over twenty pictures tagging this place as the location. Then there are his shoes. You’ll never meet a more photogenic pair of feet in your entire life. But his most iconic shot is of his left hand. Reaching out towards the sun with his left hand and flexing his watch is typical. He’s got a ring on his index finger and another on his pinky. Like most photographers can be, he’s a creep and takes pictures of people when they aren’t looking. Most of the time the photos are of friends but sometimes they’re of strangers. Exhibit A, B, and C. He’s a freelance photographer with no official website and too many social accounts to count. As for his photos, he’d say they’re good stuff indeed.”
Edwin Jonah Anamam
“Like what you’re hearing? Meet the guy behind creating it, Edwin Jonah Anamam. He returned to his hometown of Edmonton, Canada. Back in his home studio for six months, he combined samples of old vinyls he owned, his low sub phatty, and a keyboard he found in his parent’s garage all to make this track. But, his hometown in Canada was just not doing it for him. All his friends from home were leaving which left him feeling isolated and alone in a town that didn’t vibe with his music. He spent months working solo until he decided he had enough. He packed his home studio up and was off to LA just like everyone else. This sound as he would say “is very much me” and tells his story. But to him, he just wants you to listen to his music and hope you’ll dance. He’s the type of person who always needs to be around people. These days it's rare to see him performing or making music solo. He’s one half of two artist duos. It’s hard to say what he’ll do in the next few months, but if I had to guess, he probably won’t be doing it alone.”
“Do you know what a Venture Capital is? It’s fine, most people don’t but Ashanti Hepzen has got it down and has been working for one for three years now. She’s what you call “an early seed” in a large company. She grew up thousands of miles away in China between Hong Kong and Bejing. She was one of the first users of WeChat which impacted her life significantly and made her interested in tech. She graduated from Stanford with a degree in Computer Science but somehow ended up working in business. To be honest, most of her life is work related. She only travels when its for work. She goes to the movies only for work engagements. She camps when it’s a retreat for the company she works for. She even participates in fitness bootcamps when it’s company sponsored. You can’t tell the difference between her work and personal life which can only mean one thing: she’s a workaholic. Every social media account she owns might as well be a different form of LinkedIn. She’s come up with a slogan for herself called JOMO. It’s like FOMO except it’s not the fear of missing out, it’s the joy of missing out which explains a whole lot.”
PRESENTATION OF PROJECT
EXHIBITION - ADAM D. KAMIL GALLERY
This collection of animations was featured in the annual ICAM Senior Exhibition Show - Silience which will also featured 40 other undergraduate artists of the Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Major at UC San Diego. The exhibition was held on June 11th - June 13th from 1-4pm daily in the Mandeville Center on the UC San Diego Campus. This piece specifically was located in the Adam D. Kamil Gallery. The videos played on a TV screen using a Micca Media Player which automatically looped all the video. Visitors of the space were able to pick up the headphones and listen to the audio and narration to the videos. See pictures below of my piece in the exhibition and people interacting with it. For more information on the show, click here.
ONLINE - YouTube
Animations will be accessible online to the public through a designated YouTube Channel. These animations will be made public and available to viewers at anytime on YouTube beginning June of 2019. The goal of having these animations exist online in a social media space is that it also allows for the possibility of reaching the people each animation was based off of. Subscribe to the YouTube Channel for more updates and to be notified when a new animation is released by clicking here.