When we remember, we’ll try and give you a nudge when the city’s best shows are about to close. Consider us to be your last-to-know best friends. We sent Scott Smith to FACT’s first show of 2016…

How do you act when you know the world is watching?

When Instagram ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘favourites’ are how we validate ourselves, a life online can be a starkly public one. Where personal stuff is constantly judged, and fame – or notoriety – can be won through the click of a mouse, the internet is shaping our identities more than ever.

In ‘Follow’ at FACT, artists explore the impact the internet is having on our sense of personal identity, and what we really think about ourselves and those around us.

ImageResizerA major exhibition, work is featured by the likes of Shia LaBeouf (who famously popped by for the weekend), Rönkkö & Turner, Cécile B. Evans and Debora Delmar, showcasing an assortment of experiences with social identity and celebrity within an online context.

Constant Dullaart’s online performance High Retention, Slow Delivery narrates how he purchased 2.5 million Instagram followers and distributed them amongst a personal selection of art-world accounts – highlighting the problems of associating likes and follows with importance and value, with a popularity that is quite literally bought.

A more positive side of social media is how it offers a way to connect with people on a more personal level – people you may otherwise never have met. The #TOUCHMYSOUL project showcases this perfectly, showing transcribed notes and recordings from phone calls which LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner took where they asked strangers to touch their soul. The responses range from wildly open and heart-warming to the trivial and absurd.

Regardless of your opinion about it, social media is an integral part of society and our lives – and, in whatever form it takes from here on, it’s here to stay. As our egos grow like Ant Hamlyn’s Boost Project, a balloon hanging in FACT’s lobby which grows the more it’s tweeted about, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and reflect on what social media is really doing to us and our personalities.

Follow runs at FACT until the 21st of February.

Scott Smith

Main pic: The Double Negative

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