Do it for the Gram

Do It for the Gram is a design project concerned with ‘the Second Self’ and fashion on the internet. Here is how Cyborg Anthropology defines the term ‘Second Self’:

The term Second Self is a way of describing one’s online or external identity. In the case of the web, one’s online identity evolves in tandem with offline self. This self, instead of simply a secondary self, is becoming an extension of the self. In the same way that the primary, offline self needs to shower, dress, and maintain the self, so does the online self. 

A fascination by the role of the Instagram influencer became the starting point for this project. It is the year 2018 and increased use of social media has brought about social change. Big fashion houses, brands and magazines have lost much of their influence to regular people on Instagram and other social media. One reaction to this change has been to hire people with a large social media following to communicate commercial agendas on their Instagram accounts. Since influencers don’t pay for the products they’re hired to show off, they constantly have something new on display. This reinforces the idea that once an outfit or an item is shared publicly it can never be worn again.

With new technologies, Do it for the Gram proposes the possibilities of expressing the self digitally through fashion and style, without the production and purchase of material goods. How the body is dressed or undressed is equally important in the virtual world as in the physical world.

One way of understanding fashion, is that it allows people to perform their identity by using extensions (clothing, accessories, tattoos, hairdos, piercings, body alterations, gestures, posture etc.) to negotiate with the biological body. But when identity is no longer performed by way of the biological body, the possibilities of fashioning oneself, increase exponentially.

The virtual body is a technological construct – a cyborg – and is therefore manipulated and perfected much more easily than the biological body.  How a person is born in the physical world does not need to mean anything in the virtual world. This makes the virtual world a potential safe space for people to explore their identity – and fashion plays an essential role in such exploration. In the virtual world, it matters how the body is dressed or undressed, just as much as in the physical world. Therefore, virtual clothes can be seen as an equally important tool for the fashioning of identity in cyberspace, as it is in the physical world.

The Second self is also useful in the performance of identity. Everything we post online has been thought of, and is therefore curated. Personal style on Instagram has become equally important as fashion has always been and tells us a lot about the way that person sees the world, or themselves for that matter.

I wanted to address the ways in which we attempt to upload our physical selves into the virtual world by making my avatar a perfectly realistic copy of myself. It was important to me that the avatar would look as much like me as possible, to explore further the merging of the two worlds, and how they blur.

The physical world is not immune to events taking place in the virtual world. On the contrary, the physical is always at stake in, and subject to transformations by way of, the virtual.