Notes on Justjustgirlythingsthings Collaborations.
There is an impossibly vast amount of information and experience that converges on this project. In order to process and filter that information in a manner that wouldn’t reduce my work or JGT to a trend piece or study, I chose to examine Justgirlythings through the caricature that is my art practice, which has often dealt with themes like slights and excesses of information.
The first essay that I wrote about Justgirlythings was about 6000 words which was edited, with much frustration, down to 1500. I’ve said many times throughout the project how I regret writing something so inadequate, and the formation of this project occurred when I became rueful about that essay.
Additionally people were often soliciting me to write think-pieces about internet phenomenon and I found it hard to not deaden the subject in my efforts, which might speak more about my writing than anything else…
As a child I used to make dragon and fashion ‘magazines’, volumes of information/artwork, often produced in collaboration with friends/family, which weren’t encyclopaedic in any sense and often because of the very frustration of collaboration, ended up differently to how I imagined. These experiences have really encouraged me to collaborate in my practice if and when I can.
Over time I’ve often felt these collaborations work in my favour and feel an uncomfortable imbalance, reflected in the relationship between Justgirlythings and their followers. Although in these instances the relationships are consensual, I sometimes have felt I have not worked hard enough to make the experience fair for those I collaborate with… and I know despite the initial relationship between Justgirlythings and their followers is one of fellow user on the Tumblr service, the dissonance that has grown therein does seem to subject their follower-base to a potential exploitation.
I’ve written about users before, and keep the work of Olia Lialina and Jesse Darling close to heart. Lialina turns the idea of the general purpose computer, onto the User, one who is happy to fill in the gaps in their User Experience how they see fit. Darling fills in a few more gaps and opens up some more, in writing about nu data-feudalism, where artists like myself have exploited users and their content in a manner which scorns them. Although this may be the case, I’ve been aware of it for sometime and hence this is where my work centres, on how to navigate and work to heal some of the trauma I may have engendered by taking this position.
By announcing collaborations, or soliciting them I am declaring how the affective labour and my online access to the work of my peers factors into my practice as an artist who is getting paid to produce work. These collaborations both symbolize and make literal a new intention in my practice, which is to acknowledge this kind of work by paying them. As for the Justgirlythings followers, whom I try to approach with questions, I pay them in promoting them to my following, and following them, I don’t expect a follow back or that they answer my questions. Perhaps this reifies the toxic relationship Darling describes, where artists scorn users, but this decision was made to not alarm these Users in the way I did with one of the members of Justgirlythings, whom I interviewed, and then went silent on me.
Work with artists Hannah Le Feuvre and Vanessa Omoregie performs multiple functions, one is to commit further to our existing relationship within a ‘female’ identified network of artists, Bunny Collective.
Hannah collaborates with me on drawings and collages full of abstract signifiers which draw on both our experiences and Justgirlythings, these drawings have already been a valuable research asset.
Photographer and artist Vanessa Omoregie and I work together to produce some stock photography for Justgirlythings future posts.
Some of these collaborations are rooted in increasing my understanding of Justgirlythings, collaborations with Manuel Arturo Abreu and Jay Owens, call on through their experience as researchers in these areas.
Other collaborations deal in offerings to Justgirlythings, Anna Crews and Carmen Sibha Keiso, artists who work with themes of the teenage/video, made a series of Justgirlythings vines, a form which lends itself well to parody of JGT.
Another collaboration deals in the futurity of Justgirlythings- Mary Bond is giving me lessons in how to transpose this content to a different online platform, Newhive, perhaps this might be the next platform Justgirlythings populate?
The people management involved therein has been quite a task, each collaboration was carefully thought out to be useful and convenient to those solicited but it hasn’t all gone exactly to plan either.
In the past I’ve talked about how Users sometimes are desirous of the power of the networks they operate on- to model themselves on them, I’ve interpreted this as melancholic- to be able to become that which is increasingly lost to us but still engenders intimate trauma. Wearable technology, incorporated technology, melancholic cyborgization… I am careful to acknowledge my own inclination to do this, this project has been an account of such ideas, which reflects the form and function of the residency I am on to perform this work, as well as general art world structures and ideas around curating/art-making.
Response Drawings by Hannah Le Feuvre, Response Collages by Rosemary Kirton.