In compiling the images for “ad a friend,” the Art 280 class took on the hypothetical role of a Facebook advertiser, sifting through thousands of images of Facebook friends to find those that could be used for effective product endorsement. Much of the work had already been done for us, for the posted images of oneself and one’s friends in many ways already resemble advertisements, revealing a widespread effort of users to presents themselves in an appealing light. By adding recognizable corporate logos and invented taglines, we merely highlighted the pre-existing “ad-like” aspect of these pictures.
To invite viewers to the exhibition, we printed our pictures of our Facebook friends and sent them directly to the depicted person via campus mail. By creating physical copies of images meant solely for the Internet, we brought into the world tangible evidence of these online identities and challenged the assumption that digital information is ephemeral.
Lastly, it’s worth noting how the pixilated quality of these large print ads (which are blown up to sizes that aren’t supported by their online resolution) serve as a poignant reminder of the pictures’ non-commercial origins. The visibly low resolution stands in tension with the promotional look of the image, charging it as the only thing which keeps the images from being read as actual ads.
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