This summer I went to see a few great exhibitions in London. Last week I went to the National Portrait Gallery for the first time. I found it a strange experience, in particular the galleries and long corridors with paintings and busts from the Tudors to the Victorians. Long rows of extremely ugly, joyless, nasty people people staring down on you. But I did love some like the portrats of William Blake and William Shakspeare for their graceful simplicity and the lovely expression of their eyes, and Harold Pinter’s and Neil Kinnock and his wife’s for their storytelling and gentle humour. And I heard Larry Friedlander talk about Portraits from Durer to Facebook at the Transforming Audiences 2 Conference at Westminster University. (see here) Of course, doing all this research on Flickr I cannot help getting more and more interested in visual portraits. Last term my colleague Selma Koric and myself did a mini research project: “International exchange students using of digital photography to keep in touch with friends and family”, where we studied the use of photos for self representations on social media sites such as StudiVZ and the Russian version of Facebook. One tentative conculsion was, that a substantial level of media literacy is necessary for people to feel they are in control of their presence online, if not they are not happy and don’t know even exactly why.
portraits from dürer to facebook