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2024 Annual Conference

St. Louis

March 21-23, 2024

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Social Networks and the Construction of Identity: Ralph Eugene Meatyard's The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater

Brad Farwell

Friday, November 10 - 2:45PM to 3:15PM

An examination of the way that this classic series of images relates to our use of modern social networks. Meatyard's The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater opens up theories of how identity is constructed, his use of masks evoking the gap between an exterior physical appearance and the inner self (a constant concern of all photography) and his description of an individual as the sum of their relationships mirroring the way we exist today in a system like Facebook. The lecture will provide a brief context (biographical and visual) for Meatyard's final project, and deal primarily with the theoretical connections of LBC to our current lives, looking at our online persona as a mask, and the idea that the interpersonal links we have made can present a more meaningful way to understand who we are. Both our online lives and LBC seem to end with the death of the network's author, but (as with physical photographs) our online 'selves' can endure beyond our death. This raises many of the same questions that Meatyard's photographs do: How do we define a life? If this self continues without us, to what degree is it ever really under our control?

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Brad Farwell
Brad Farwell

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