How does media help change our shared and personal spaces and create ours and others’ identities? Pingree and Gitelman explores this idea in their book “New Media – 1740 to 1915.” They look at a variety of media including the zograscope, the physiognotrace, and the telegraph, as well as others. What I find interesting is their information on how media transformed space and identity. They explain how the zograscope provided mappings of “polite society.” By creating prints of certain outdoor streets and monuments this technology allowed certain spaces to be emptied of previous associations and filled with other images in order to change the space and how it was perceived. Along these lines the authors express how internet chat rooms can become “…laboratories for the construction of identity.” (91) The telegraph allowed for “self-abstraction” or escape from the body. And scrapbooking has given the artist a way to “glean” images in order to re-create space and identity.
In the last few months I have been intrigued with how several artists engage in mixed media scrapbooking as they create art journals. These journals are full of images, symbolism, poetry, thoughts, etc. These journals serve as a memoir of one’s identity and creativity. Some of these artists move beyond their scrapbooks and journals to create art that they license into home décor and gift items, clothing and accessories, linens and prints. For these mostly female artists, many state their goal with this type of mixed media art as one of infusing the spaces of others with beauty, joy and color. It is interesting how, even with the internet, tangible media seems to be thriving. The internet provides a space for marketing of these tangible mixed media creations. The amount of traffic that these generate through blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. is astounding. I have to ask why? What are these slices of identity inspiring in others around the globe? They are changing spaces, especially homes. I must admit that I am deeply inspired by all of the positivity and beauty that these women share. It seems they are giving lovely tidbits of uniqueness from their souls. My own experience with this is through Pinterest where I have created 37 boards. My board with our wedding pictures on it has over 7,500 followers with most of those coming in the last few weeks at 1000 per week. I have no idea why this board has gained this following. It’s kind of fun and scary at the same time. My husband wants to know if we get a prize. There seems to be a deep fascination with creating space through media and the development of identity.
The authors share how the physiognotrace demonstrates our fascination with “our pretty faces” and physiognomy and “shadow painting” on the wall demonstrates our intense interest with even our silhouettes. The metaphor they use for scrapbookers is “gleaners.” They are those who enjoy “…gathering the small bits, the leftovers, the dropped grapes or the grain left in the corners of the field – the surplus and excess – and making a meal of them. … The gleaner can still create multiple meanings and readings from the text, and can even bake bread from gleaned grain and sell it under the gleaner’s label.” (208) We use our media to transform our spaces and the spaces of others. And by doing this we express and create our identities which also help others in their own identity creation process.
How do you use media to transform space and create identity?
Pingree, Geoffrey B., and Lisa Gitelman. 2003. New Media, 1740-1915. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 3, 2014).
Photo courtesy of Julie Ann Shahin, http://tangiebaxter.com/news/2011/06/21/art-journaling-101-why-art-journal/