The New Project: Meet #FaceValue

Pitch: An Instagram account not following everyone, with no previous photos, and no followers uploads an image. Who likes it?

Instagram is a place where we construct and portray an identity. Regardless of whether it is a true or accurate one is irrelevant. A sense of self, a version of ourselves, is put out there by the images we chose to (or chose not to) share. Each time an image is selected to be uploaded a decision about the type of persona is made. Because most of the people seeing those images don’t know you except for the images you chose to upload. You are choosing to share parts of yourself with people who can only take you at face value.

I am going to upload around 50 images of myself to Instagram, different ones, showing different parts of my personality. A new account, with no followers and no previous images/engagement. All will be tagged with the same hashtags and uploaded at the same time to ensure that the same people have access to all the images. I want to see how those pictures are reduced to only the context of how many likes they get.


I am going to capture screenshots of each image I upload to Instagram and then print them off to display as a collection of photos on the wall. The number of likes may dominate the image to show Instagram is more about the likes than the image itself. Or I might make the images with more likes larger, to show the way likes amount to value in this platform.

I thought about getting the images printed as photos, to be ironic considering may of the images uploaded to Instagram would never be considered to print. However, now I am thinking I want them printed on paper in standard ink. If I produce them to be ephemeral objects it reflects the attitudes towards selfies as non-important. And I want to use that as a juxtaposition to highlight the fact that those images go a long way to creating an identity for us, something that is the opposite on “non-important”.

Image selection

I have selected various selfies from the past year. Some mean a lot to me, taken on special days, taken by special people. Some mean little, I can’t even remember when some of them were taken. Some of the photos of myself I really like, but I also selected some that I don’t like: ones where I have coldsores, pimples, I think I look fat, I look silly. I wanted to try and stop that process of self editing by the photos I took. I didn’t to select images just based on my perception of their shareability. And yet an element of that always exists: I was very aware that I was putting up images of myself on a public platform, and that those images were then going to be exhibited on a gallery wall. That did, in a way, change that selection process.

Hashtag selection

Hashtags on Social Media reduces the face value of people to the likes they can get. People literally only put hashtags on their photo so more people will see and engage with their image. I used research I had already done on the most popular tags to select which tags to use, and I combined the relevant top rated tags with some more community specific tags. I chose ones from the beauty and makeup community because my photos were selfies and cosmetics and makeup, therefore, feature. I have to keep them general enough so they worked for all the images, but specific enough to warrant people’s engagement with them.

#art #behappy #instagood #smile #eyes #instabeauty #bbloggerau #makeupaddict #lipstickjunkie #lashes #curlyhairdontcare #selfie #selfienation #facevalue

 Criteria which will allow me to judge #FaceValue as successful

Any type of engagement from Instagram users. I am worried about none of my photos getting more than 3 likes each. I think if some get few or no likes that is interesting, but to make the project engaging I need a number to get over 10-11.

An artwork that is aesthetically interesting. I want to mimic elements of Instagram, but to call on new features. Like Warhol’s Monroe images I want a holistic sense to be formed from the smaller images, representing how each images plays a role in creating our whole persona. However, also like Warhol, I want the differences (size or number of likes) to create a disjointedness, points of interest in each individual image.

A final product means something. I want that final cluster of images on the wall to make people think about what images they are chosing to share online and what that says about them both in and out of that digital space. I don’t expect #FaceValue to have the answers to the big sweeping questions about the role and effect of social media image sharing, but I do want it to be a part of the discussion people are being to have about those questions.


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