How closely do you identify with the character you play in facebook?
— anonymous status update, social networking site.
Based on a collective viewing of a selection of young American artist Guthrie Lonergan’s growing youtube collection of peoples‘ introductions to their Myspace pages, Salon Populaire hosts participants in NYLON, Craig Calhoun and Richard Sennett’s research group of social scientists and cultural producers to act as priviledged respondents and to discuss their remarks with the audience.
The internet holds a vast archive of representations of self. From facebook pages to Craigslist solicitations, youtube spots about what “people say”, to Tumblrs, to videos of our cats– the online project that people seem to have been most consistently committed to, and most creative in pursing, is testifying about ourselves.The modes and rhetorics of self presentation change quickly on the internet; how quickly we become nostalgic for the AOL profile or even the mySpace page, through which we once “got to know” our perfect strangers, our friends and ourselves. And how quickly we learn orient ourselves to new ones.
From one perspective these artifacts that people produce are visual expressions, petit artworks. From another they are data. What are we to make of the internet’s vast and deepening archive of self-produced representations? What can we do with them? What are they trying to tell us?
NYLON was created in 2001 by Craig Calhoun and Richard Sennett of New York University and the London School of Economics and currently holds its 10th annual graduate student conference in Berlin. It began as a network of young scholars within the two institutions and collaboration between them. Today, NYLON has expanded beyond its original boundaries; it now includes members from Cambridge and Oxford in the U.K.; from Chicago and Los Angeles in the U.S.; and on the Continent from Paris, Budapest and Frankfurt. NYLON researchers share a broad interest in culture and qualitative research methods; more, with ways that social processes turn into concrete cultural forms through practical activity. They are thus exploring informal, improvised social practices, as well as the bones of institutions; again, they try to integrate cultural analysis with an understanding of politics and political economy.
NYLON is supported by New York University, London School of Economics, Cambridge University, Goldsmiths College-London and the Watermill Center for the Arts and Humanities.
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