(Re) Tracing Paper

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(Re)* Tracing Paper

Portraits by Michelle Snow

Click here to visit the project website.  

5. Xlovetwilightx9

6. Aarthi S.  

 Project Method and Description:

We randomly selected four profiles of people who posted results to online quizzes they've taken. Next, after using the resulting word or phrase for a Google Image search, a composite portrait of each individual was drawn from tracings of these images. The website reflects the process by which the questions and answers offered by online quizzes create a compound identity, as denoted by the ubiquitous user profile. Visitors to the website can navigate through each user's new visual profile and click through images in the series to find the original quiz (or in the case of the first, "Chase," visitors can click through the websites of the original image sources). At the end, the final portrait is a link to the user's original profile.

*For the revisitation, I randomly selected two more profiles. I streamlined the method of linking out, this time choosing to link out to the websites that generated the images I traced from Google Image Search. I also contacted the profiles and directed them to the portrait I made of them. I created a quiz on Tickle.com to get feedback.

Hi, Aarthi! I am an artist living in Providence, RI. My latest project involves making composite portraits of people who make public profiles on the internet, using results of online quizzes they have taken. I enter your results verbatim into a Google image search, select an image, trace that image, and then arrange the new tracings into a new "portrait" of YOU! You can find the one I completed of you here, at [http://www.butterdays.com/tracing]. Have a nice day!


For theorists such as Donna Harraway in The Cyborg Manifesto, digital media is structurally capable of maintaining (and representing) more dynamic and malleable subject positions via the "archivability" and "updatability" of code. Indeed, the "networked" structure of online communities provide a space where individuals may relate beyond restrictive identity categories such as a race, class, and gender (and may, instead, create communities via interests). Moreover, the internet provides an arena where individuals may negotiate the connections between the spaces of the personal, social, and political.

"Tracing Paper" is an exercise in profile/portraiture in the digital age. It represents a fresh take on more common ways of displaying personal information on a profile page. Using readily available quiz results from public personalities, it reorganizes their information into a single image, a digital 'chimera' of sorts, to amalgamate different aspects of their personality. The title of the project carries several meanings having to do not only with the technique present in the works, but also the history of the personality quiz phenomenon. Often rooted in the infamous Cosmo quizzes, online personality quizzes are now meant to be shared--entering social networks as links/banners/images--and circulated. We have taken this concept and applied it in the extreme, commenting on the culture of images at work in negotiating online identities. Collected in each final portrait are the once disparate results of our subjects' quizzes, displayed as organic wholes, as complicated as their owners. If we are to take these portraits as aspiring to totality, what is missing?What new connections are available to us when quiz results that supposedly repackage YOU back to YOU interact with other results? Is this an opening or closing of identity? Could it be both?

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