All Together Now
"All Together Now," Spike Art Quarterly 34 (2012): 36–43.
The mind is a room, wrote the nineteenth-century man of letters Jules Bois, a chambre mentale occupied by not only decent neighbors, but strange visitors. Spectral guests of the selfhood salon, »they move through the interior theater of the mind«, he mused, »like phantoms in haunted houses.«1 The image suits the fin-desiècle world, in which everything seemed to converge in the bourgeois drawing room – political factions, artistic coteries, and divided consciousness. That same mind today has access to a confederacy of real and virtual forums that make Bois’ metaphor look quaint. Every guest of the mind can have her own quarters in the ghostly city of avatars that has grown up around us, in us – perhaps as us. If the distinction between the authentic and the constructed self has been under pressure for decades, it seems to have finally crumbled under the weight of so many avatars. Lately, selfhood can hardly be parsed from the expressive outlets that don’t so much convey identity as produce it, fashioning the self out of an accumulation of »likes« that operate themselves like little, disembodied (assertions of) selves. What, after all, propagates the polycephalus self more than the equally polycephalus presence and use of technology? – technology, moreover, whose primary purpose is simply to promulgate the self. Our technology has thus birthed an infernal machine of self-producing avatars. Consistency or coherence among so many of them, naturally, is a forlorn cause...
Kathryn Andrews, Serial Killer, 2012.
Image courtesy the artist and Clifton Benevento. Photo: Aaron Igler + Matthew Suib/Greenhouse Media