Contributors Sought for Art/Data Identity Project

  • Deadline:
    Sept. 17, 2002, 1 a.m.

Contributors are sought for the early stage of a large scale, data-based – but light-hearted – art project addressing the co-opting of personal identity by type-driven celebrity ideals. Contributors will simply complete a series of 4 very brief confidential surveys (no names unless you volunteer the use of your name - all participants will be assigned a number).

Stage one of the series is "Looks Like". It involves answering a simple question: list all, if any, famous people you have been told you "look like" in the course of your life, from childhood to present. It doesn't matter if you agree with the reference/s, or even if the person who made the reference/s was crazy/drunk/blind…the important thing is that you list ALL that you can think of. The reference must have the emphasis that "you look like (xyz)" as opposed to "(xyz) looks like you". Important exclusion: references to celebrities whom you know personally. The comparisons must be to famous people who will probably never cross your path in daily life, much less be aware of your existence.

The responses will be used to compile a database that will seek to quantify and qualify the extra-personal identities used by people to justify their own existence. Survey results will be used to create a web site, which will seek to answer such questions as: "which celebrities are superfluous and can thus be removed from the archetype pool?" or a switching of the "looks like" reference, e.g., "madonna looks just like (#r58043) and (#s998303) and …".

Yes, this may all seem like a lot of fluff, but at the core this project attempts to address more serious questions, such as: why do we need to systematically 'type' people into manageable categories? Has the fallout of the 'me' generation resulted in everyone needing a celebrity doppleganger to justify their own worth? Why can't a person be considered beautiful, or admirable, without a comparison to someone "validated" by popular celebrity? Has mass media created a monster in giving us an ever-increasing archetype pool of recognizable celebrities? Is our need to "type" people an insidious, personal version of corporate branding?

Anyone interested in participating should respond to with an e-mail or mail address for instructions on obtaining an anonymous participation number, as well as details on all stages of this project. Contributors who wish to offer their names will be acknowledged on the web site and all subsequent materials.