Folksonomy | Many New Media Artists Have Used The Internet As A Tool To Explore The Construction And Perception Of Identity
“Many New Media artists have used the Internet as a tool to explore the construction and perception of identity. The Internet makes it easy for an artist to create a fictive online persona merely by setting up a free e-mail account or home page. Race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and nationality can all be invented, undermining the notion that art works are authentic expressions of their makers’ identities., a Net art project that claims to be the work of a thirteen-year-old girl named Mouchette (after the protagonist of 1967 film by Robert Bresson about an adolescent girl), demonstrates the pliability and uncertainty of online identity. As visitors explore the site, it becomes clear that Mouchette is a fictional invention. Yet the character’s presence, the sense that there really is a girl named Mouchette behind the project, remains convincing. As of this writing, the true identity of the artist responsible for Mouchette has yet to be revealed.

Other New Media artists address issues of identity in more straightforward ways. Shu Lea Cheang’s Brandon, for example, explores the true story of Teena Brandon, a young woman who was murdered for passing as a man. In Bindigirl (1999), Prema Murthy represents herself as an Indian pinup girl in a critique of the Internet pornography industry and the Orientalism found in Asian pornography. The artist group Mongrel has explored issues of identity, particularly race, in several projects, including Uncomfortable Proximity, (2000). In this work, Harwood, one of the group’s members, altered images on the Web site of Tate Britain, one of England’s leading art museums. Harwood combined portraits by British painters, including Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, and Joshua Reynolds, with images of Harwood’s friends and family to create his own version of art history and, through the process, conjure an alternative vision of British identity.”

(Stewart Mader and Mark Tribe, Brown University)

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