3 Degrees of Freedom
29 April 2022 - 22 May 2022
Town Hall Precinct
Alpha 60 (outdoor) [i]
201 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Supernormal (outdoor) [i]
180 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
“There are rewards for succeeding under capitalism and patriarchy; there are rewards even for being willing to work on its terms. There are nothing but rewards, at the surface level. The trap looks beautiful. It’s well-lit. It welcomes you in.”
–from Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
We are making and remaking our image and our visual history with each passing moment in the form of 24 billion selfies uploaded to the internet in a single year – a statistic reported by Google in 2016 which points to a figure exponentially greater today.
In the current era of the digital revolution, we find ourselves at the cusp of the Self as the dominant currency in the social economy. The increasing power behind big data and algorithmic manipulations has led to the rise of the eternally optimising self locked in the pursuit of increasing influence and ultimately social power. The idea behind the largely egalitarian origins of the internet has found itself carved up by corporate enterprise. Promised the world at our fingertips, we have instead been delivered a polarized humanity populated by a series of flattened identities, all hard angles and no gradients – the expanding metaverse reduced down to a metaphorical 3 degrees of freedom – a strict triple axis from which we experience the illusion of infinity.
We have exalted the virtual human icon that biological humans are increasingly using to orient their striving. This work is a comment on self-surveillance, self-optimisation and the expanding state of self-idolatry that is a product of the algorithmic mechanisms feeding the myth of our identities. We are being moulded by corporate interest to mine our sense of self and to continuously invent and reinvent in a cycle as vicious and cannibalistic as a snake eating its own tail. With every contortion, there is a transaction and a promise of being one step closer to perfection.
“But the shadows of stranger faces lurk here, in the Instagram Face’s figural hybridity, racial ambiguity, clay-like sculptural thingness, animal features, blank sublimity, eerie layeredness, and, of course, in its origin point and favored playground: the internet.”
–from Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell
A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway
Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman
Commissioned by Photo Australia
Curated by Photo Australia with Gareth Phillips
Supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, an Australian Government initiative