After determining the general theme of my project, I was able to narrow my research and brainstorm. I sat and wrote all of the ideas that came to my head once again without worrying if it will lead to anything. Through this came odd projects: food that photographs itself, headgear that holds your phone right in front of your face, or creating a fake subculture of people convinced their phone is their soulmate. I realized that all of my ideas seemed as though they were making it easier for people to use devices, but in fact pushed boundaries to ask viewers and users "how far is too far?"
Through practice and realization I was led to the idea of offering Instagram lessons as a performance course. I wanted to create a workshop that taught people how to use Instagram not professionally, but socially. The lessons would teach posting etiquette, hashtags, subject matter, food Instagrams, selfies, etc. I thought that this obsessive documentation and posting arose from the desire to create a celebrity life.
For a few weeks I worked with a student in The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (Ellen Sachs) to create a highly exaggerated character. This character, Melanie Parker, was obsessed with popularity and convinced this could be achieved on Instagram. I wrote two performances that taught audiences how they could achieve fame through Instagram by carefully curating their experiences.
On October 23, Ellie and I performed an Instagram Workshop to about 30 freshmen in the Stamps School of Art & Design. The audience was told by their professors via email that there was an Image Consultant presenting in the school about how to portray oneself online. The students were under the impression that this was a legitimate and professional presentation.
At the end of the performance I handed out an evaluation for students to give to their professors. From this I learned how the audience perceived my piece. Additionally, I visited one of the classes that viewed my performance to reveal myself as a student and discuss my project. What I found useful from our discussion was that students who did not use social media assumed that the character I created behaved in a way that was accurate to how their peers behave on Instagram and Facebook. However, students that use social media couldn't relate to the piece. I assumed it was because they were too involved that they weren't able to look beyond the culture they're so heavily immersed in. However, they felt they couldn't connect to the presentation because the character I created was too heavily exaggerated. Melanie Parker was too focused on celebrity culture and popularity when most are attempting to appear attractive to their immediate online community.