Jamie’s work explores how we look at the world through representation by critically analysing the medium and apparatus of photography. Image production and dissemination are at the core of his practice, Jamie makes use of alternative processes and digital imaging techniques in his work.
He is currently collaborating with neurologist, Baroness Susan Greenfield on a project to explore how social media affects the way we physically and mentally interact with others in the real world.
Jamie is working on this project from KARST, Plymouth’s newest contemporary art space, where he is a studio artist. The project with Baroness Greenfield stems from a conversation between Susan and Jamie, about Susan’s research into the effects of social media on individuals and society. Jamie has been visualising her answers using photography and video installations.
Both Susan and Jamie are intrigued by the creation of environments via screen technologies, and how these environments alter how we process information, the degree to which we take risks, socialise and empathise with others, and how we view our own personal identities.
Susan’s research investigates the relationship between technology and the brain, in particular she is looking at the positive and negative impact of the Internet and social media on the human brain. Susan believes that the human brain, and subsequently, our minds, could be undergoing unprecedented changes, due to the rapid and ever-advancing range of technologies that are transforming our environment.
In order to visualise these concepts, they have appropriated images of other people’s memories, mined from the Internet, Facebook and various other social media sites. The subjects in question are people that have befriended Jamie online, even though they have not met in person. Maybe a little bit mischievous, but we like that. Each complete image is produced by taking a long exposure photograph focused on a computer screen, while browsing a stranger’s profile picture. The finished product appears as layers upon layers of images, each representing a moment in time in someone’s life.
Some images are more painterly and abstract; others are more figurative, depicting people with clearly defined profiles. The final aesthetic of each piece is controlled by how many images the person in particular has in their Facebook album. For example, if they have one hundred images the final work is abstracted, whereas if they have only ten images, the characterising features of the person, their friends and personal possessions are recorded in more defined detail.
The individual size of peoples’ images within their browsers; the arrows that advance images on Facebook and even the mouse cursor become part of the work. These act as indicators of how the user navigates images, creating a new visual language.
Jamie, who admits to being nosey inquisitive says the project has allows him vicariously live other people’s lives through their own images. ‘The gradual realisation that Facebook, gives me access to such a vast archive of images fall over the world has opened my eyes to the giant melting pot of cultures and backgrounds available online.
It’s all too easy to fall prey to a bit of aimless Facebook browsing, and Jamie admits that this project is an obsessive one. He reflects daily on Susan’s research, whilst viewing hundreds of images on various social media platforms. ‘I’m amazed by the similarities and patterns in the ways that people photograph each other’, agreeing with Susan that developments in media technology effect the brain. ‘I’m particularly interested in why platforms like Facebook are so popular and addictive, having explored how so many of us use it as a vessel for storing our memories.’