claire of young shields interviewed me recently regarding the webcam blogging manifesto for her university’s student-run journal. uh so yeah that was one of the coolest things thats ever happened to me and it’s also something i can add to me resume right under “scraping resin” and “how to make your parents not trust you online” woohoo!!!
you can read the whole thing here
also i’m c&ping my answers to her questions below as a future reference
Why/when did you start your own blog?
thank you! jellybones.net/blog was created in 08 with the intention of documenting personal style, but i like to think of it as a platform for curating visual stream(s) of consciousness(es?). the landscape of the web vs. the context of my every day life offers a different perspective on how i wear my clothes, but it also allows me to archive sensibilities.
i chose to host a blogging CMS on my own domain as opposed to using blogspot (which almost all fashion- or personal style- oriented blogs were using at the time) because i wanted something that was open source. in this choice i also opted out of blogspot-specific social networking, the most integral being the hierarchy created by the blogger profile and the integration of things like blogrolls into user data vs blog data.
hosting platforms with application compatibility (like tumblr) that facilitate intra-action blogging replace guis like wordpress and blogspot which depend on web-based plugins for dynamic web possibilities beyond commenting and linking (both which also expect and require additional work from the visitor).
i like to think of my blog as a more permanent space (vs. my twitter, tumblr, facebook) because there is only one stream with one pov and my focus is more on the content than on the interaction surrounding the content.
Does the design of your site reflect your media arts work at UCLA, or is it just personal taste?
personal taste, or just design sensibility i guess. i wanted a certain transparency in terms of styling and ease of use, particularly as web design no longer requires a specialized skill set. i think content and navigation are the most important things to consider in the context of a blog with a mostly passive audience.
the pixels/decorations were added as an acknowledgment last year when i designed a portfolio for an interactive media class that attempted to parody the minimalism-at-all-cost dogma prevalent in my department at UCLA.
What is the webcam blogging manifesto all about?
i think industry involvement has really worked towards the commodification of fashion blogs which takes away from the ideology of democratic space online. ‘fashion’ comes loaded with implications of lifestyle (as opposed to medium) and have vs have nots, and this has unavoidably carried over into blogs. however, the fashion industry itself operates under a strict set of completely made-up standards that doesn’t necessarily have to inform how we view/want to view personal style online.
a lot of blogs have developed to imitate magazines at a micro-level instead of circumventing the idea of dictating manufactured style or trends. the crossover of mediums and the availability of previously-expensive technology unfortunately translates into personal style becoming personally styled. that is, when people become their own brand identity.
different fashion blogs use different blogging tools and are spread across the internet with no centralization – unlike websites like youtube or twitter there is no “fashion blog platform” that leaves users with a concept and allows them freedom within certain constraints. combined with the fact that hyperlinks only go one way, this makes 1) blogs harder to find without base traffic 2) popular blogs even more popular and 3) industry attention cement the popularity of popular blogs.
i like webcam photography as its own medium because its an appropriated convenience technology that created a new point of view (the gaze from the top of your computer). there is a whole generation being archived through their self portraiture online – why not utilize it in a context other than casual social networking. why not explore it as something that can be manipulated as opposed to something that is just used.
The description Manifesto implies promoting a cause, or a strong belief. Is the webcam manifesto as important to you as such a phrase would suggest? Why?
manifesto in the art traditional sense is an extreme word that i don’t really think is suitable for describing 21st century methods, which is kind of why i used it (maybe it’s taken on a new reference-meaning, idk?). but i do think it’s important to consider the webcam pov as a facet of defining the generational ideologies affected by colloquial personal bloggers with an internet-based audience and the weird shame/secrecy stigma of having a following online (especially in the context of millions of different kinds of casual internet users worldwide). i think it’s relevant to also mention the increasing use of webcams in anonymous sexual encounters online and (following the vein of trying to map online social interactions into real life ones) the possibilities that could change the way we approach shame/sexualization in general.
If someone were to put it to you that webcam blogging is stupid because you could see the clothes better on a higher quality camera, how would you respond?
i don’t think one should replace the other – there are undeniable advantages to high res photography for image-based blogs. however, webcam blogging deals with both form over quality/aesthetic details (works to disregard “standing in a field” stereotype completely) and new visual (webcam perspective) and user (person with a computer) point of views. its a niche aesthetic and i wouldn’t want to promote a homogenous quality of original style images on the web or anything but it’s an acknowledgment of the snowball fashion blog effect over the last 8(?) years.
What is your opinion on fashion bloggers such as Rumi Neely and Bryan Boy who have become more celebrities than bloggers? Would you criticise them for accepting designer clothes/all that fame?
i can’t condemn anyone for success or the perks of that success – and no one can deny the attraction in receiving nice things for free lol. the internet has the capability to be a huge “fame machine”, i just personally don’t publish my blog with the intention of celebrity (assuming celebrity = lifestyle + (“brand”) identity).
How would you answer the critique that Webcam blogging = self obsession and ‘being up your own arse’?
haha it’s totally narcissistic, but because almost everything we do online is based on a personal identity i think narcissism is unavoidable and not necessarily a “bad” thing. webcam blogging is narcissistic because you’re staring at yourself, in control of your composition, and have the option to take basically an infinite amount of photos in sequence. but there’s also a truthiness in the minimal ability to manipulate the photos and the relatable/a kind of intimate context. i would argue that the effort bloggers who curate the broadcast of themselves/their lives as a specific brand (mostly unrelatable one based on the attainment of certain lifestyle privileges) is much more narcissistic than the use of casual webcam.