Screenshots of Nicole Edwards

October, 2015

The aim of this project, titled "Identity, Selfhood and Persona", was to come up with a persona and convey that visually via a series of images. I focused on a girl, Nicole, and how she expresses herself differently across a range of online communities, depending on her audience. This project was part of my BA (Hons) Digital Media Arts degree at The University of Surrey.

How do we present ourselves online?
How do we present ourselves to family, friends and peers?
How do we present ourselves to people we don't really know?
How do we present ourselves to colleagues and employers?
How do we present ourselves to best friends?
How do we present ourselves to potential lovers and romantic partners?
Screenshots of Nicole Edwards Identity 
This project focuses on a young female who makes use of social media platforms to convey herself. The way she is presented on each platform varies, depending on which traits she wants to show (or hide) from the users of that platform. 
For example, on LinkedIn she presents herself professionally to potential employers, on Facebook she presents herself casually, yet sensibly, to her peers, family and friends and on Tinder she presents herself as attractive and confident to potential romantic and sexual partners. 
Nowadays, a large portion of our social interactions are made online. This is especially true for young women. Significantly, this person has grown up in an age where individuals can both consume and produce. 
Social media gives the ability to broadcast an identity, or many. To quote Sherry Turkle’s ‘Life on the Screen’, “The Internet is just another element of computer culture that has contributed to thinking about identity as a multiplicity. On it, people are able to build a self by cycling through many selves”. 
I believe that, by looking at her expression across multiple platforms, we see a fuller picture of Nicole’s identity, selfhood and persona. 
To do this, I have gathered various pictures of an individual who’s playing the role of Nicole. I then created social profiles, where I uploaded the images (after editing where necessary). Finally, I took screenshots of these profiles on a mobile device. I particularly chose to use a mobile device for these screenshots, as most interactions on social networks now occur via smartphones. 
In this work I’ve used semantic codes by revealing traits such as sexuality (i.e. Tinder) and professionalism (i.e. LinkedIn) to make the desires and intentions of the individual clearer, and lead the story forward. 
I’ve also used symbolic codes. For example, the use of brands symbolises wealth and materialism, and the use of red lipstick symbolises raciness, sex and love. 
The use of self portraits also connotes a casual approach, where non-self portraits connote professionalism.

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