Lina Scheynius is a photographer who uses different platforms such as flickr, tumblr and instagram to share her work. She started as an amateur photographer, mostly using film, taking intimate pictures of herself and her entourage. Stylistically, her portraits share similarities with Nan Goldin, an influential photographer who started in the 70s, using flash cameras and snapshot aesthetic to portray brutal and authentic images of her close ones.
Lina talked about her instagram practice for Wandering Bears, a creative organization working for the promotion of emerging artists. She explains that she was “very reluctant to join instagram” at first and created her account fairly recently (around 2013-14) because she was scared that her social networks would overtake her life at one point. Using internet was a massive freedom, she says, in order to start building her audience and to challenge the iconography related to women’s presence on the web. However, because of the ‘like’ culture she is constantly struggling between her own judgments regarding a good photograph and how popular it can get. Scheynius describes her art as personal journals and take advantage of the online space to produce self-images that are authentic and daring to her eyes.
Inhabiting space, as Sara Ahmed explains, implies a “system of possible movements” (53), but how does relation between bodies and objects are intertwined in online spaces? Using Lina Scheynius’ instagram activity as an example, anyone who wants to observe her page requires an intermediate: a mobile device. First, our movements are related to the space we inhabit, while we are using our device –bedroom, kitchen, café, school, etc. Hence, our bodies have different positions in relation to each of these possible spaces. Personally, the comfort, intimacy and privacy of my bedroom would influence my interaction with online space (using instagram) differently then if I was in the metro –a shared space with unknown people who may observe what I am doing on my phone. However, Ahmed notes the connexion between bodies and objects describing the relation between a writer and his writing table. “[T]his body with this table is a different body than it would be without it,” (55) she describes. In a way, objects are extension of our bodies and have multiple uses to partake in certain activities. In the case of the mobile apparatus, it gives access to another dimension (another space) that is not possible with other everyday objects.
Mobile media allows “bodies [to be] submerged, such that they become the space they inhabit, in taking up space, bodies move through space and are affected by the “where” of that movement.” In the giving example, scrolling on Lina Scheynius instagram page gives us access to two different spaces simultaneously: where I am with the mobile phone and the space of Scheynius photographs. Her visual world captures moments of tension and contemplation -sky colors, tensed hands, body hair- all related to her interactions with others and the space she inhabits. Her shots demonstrate a sense of spontaneity, offering her intimacy to the viewer. The photographer is conscious of her process and it is in fact liberating to observe a world that is so openly giving to us.
Nonetheless, this ideal of openness is regulated by instagram and may obstruct our orientation towards the artist’s work. In fact, Scheynius does not respect the “keep you clothes on” rule, which arbitrarily allows instagram to censor certain content. A limited amount of her work is present on instagram affecting our experience of it. If “phenomenology is an ‘open circuit’ between the perceiving body and its world” (2002:102) as Rosalyn Diprose explains (55), then our experiences are define by politics which alter the information accessible to us. Then how is it possible to have access to truthful creative exposition? How does online photographers succeed in finding genuine ways to present themselves?
Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phenomenology Ch. 1: Orientations Towards Objects, section “Inhabiting Spaces”. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. 51-63.