Between Mass and Mask: The Profane Media Logic of Anonymous Imageboard Culture 18 December 2019, Agnietenkapel, 12.00 hrs. Supervisors: Robin Celikates & Esther Peeren
|Date||18 December 2019|
This study analyzes the online “mask culture” of imageboards like 4chan in opposition to the dominant “face culture” of social media platforms like Facebook. It is argued that whereas the latter casts the user as possessing a clearly delineated and persistent personal identity, the former fosters a paradoxical sense of (non)identity that is ephemeral and im-personal, and that forms a monstrous and grotesque media body, in which the boundaries of the self are rendered porous by way of a festive immersion in digital dirt and anonymous contact. In this, it is shown, mask culture radically embodies the profane media logic that inheres in contemporary culture as a whole. The study seeks to understand this logic with an eye to its emancipatory potentials as well as its more problematic aspects, by situating it in the larger historical and aesthetic lineages of modern mass (media) culture and the carnivalesque tradition in popular culture and art. What this reveals is an affinity between mass and mask that, albeit precariously, continues to resonate in the present.