Digital Gaze

In critical theory, sociology, and psychoanalysis the gaze (translated from French le regard) is the act of seeing and being seen. Art critic and writer John Berger spoke of the gaze with regard to art and image making in his seminal BBC series Ways of Seeing. The idea of the ‘male gaze’ soon followed, coined by film critic Laura Mulvey.

In the digital sphere, the gaze has experienced a fundamental transformation ever since we have been able to stage, capture and curate our own images. For this series, I used images sourced from instagram posts from around the world. My ambition is to paint one image from one instagram account from every country. 

I chose to focus in on the background of each image, to depict the drama taking place behind the staged image. In this way, I attempt to subvert the digital gaze, which tends to be focused on the narrative that the individual has presented to the digital viewer. 

Through depicting the unintentional subjects in these staged images, I wanted to represent another aspect of the digital gaze - one that does not have to do with the relationship between the image poster and the intended audience. 

There is also an unintended audience here, hidden in the background, a third party that was not explicitly invited to the sphere. By this I mean the security agencies, governments and nefarious agents that are continuously mining our data for their own purposes.