PicBod- Development for my final project

After spending time over the last few weeks completing the different tasks for Picbod, that were based around different themes relating to picturing the body, I now have to decide the direction I want to take for my final project. After looking back at the work I have done for the different task, I feel that I am most passionate about the themes and ideas that came out of the ‘Conversation Task’. For the conversation task I looked at the ideas of online Chatrooms and how these relate to themes such as catfishing, the idea of truth and deception and also how technology has influenced the way we live our lives; all of these themes really interest me and I want to continue looking into some of them, hopefully this will lead me to a final idea for my project.

For the task, we had to have a conversation with a stranger, and so for my conversation I decided to do something a bit different and outside my comfort zone and have a conversation with a stranger on an online chatroom. This in itself brought up issues such as deception and catfishing and made me question could I trust who I was talking to. However I still managed to have a detailed conversation with a man called Hunter, he went into a lot of detail about his life and family that made me believe what he was saying, however there was still a small part of the back of my brain questioning whether I could really trust him. From my conversation with Hunter, the theme of isolation came up as he himself isolated himself from from the world to an extent by living away from people on his own, as well as the idea that the online chatroom isolated him within the computer and removed him for reality. For my image set for the task I based it on this idea of isolation and related it to Hunter as well; from feedback I found that these images were interesting but did not do the whole idea justice and to an extent I agree, however at the time I was unsure how to represent my conversation through images; I was also asked if I had stayed in contact with Hunter, which I hadn’t, it would have been interesting to continue talking to him and look at how our relationship over the internet developed. However as I did not stay in contact with Hunter I asked myself, is there any way to re-find someone off of a chatroom again?

The chatroom I used to talk to Hunter was an anonymous chatroom, the participant would only have to tell the other their names if they wanted to, also there was no imagery just text. Furthermore as soon as you exited out of the chat, the chat would have been lost and there would be no way to contact that person again. I wondered whether I could find Hunter again from the little information he gave me on himself; ironically I would become the ‘hunter’ looking for Hunter.

I spent time going through the same chatroom the next day, after my feedback from the task, asking people if they were Hunter from Louisiana, Baton Rouge. There were many no responses and I just left these chats. However I did get a few people say that they were Hunter, and so I played along with them asking them a few more questions, however soon people gave in and said they were not really Hunter. I unfortunately did not find Hunter and so I decided to look on Facebook to see if there was anyone called Hunter from Louisiana, Baton Rouge who was also Hunters age.There were many different Hunters, however after going through the first few it seemed impossible for most to find out their age as this bit of detail was hidden, and so I gave up on that idea as I could look through all of the ones with their age on show and not find him. The hunt for Hunter made me think about technology and the digital world in general, and the idea of ‘disappearing’ conversations that allow people to act if a different way than they possibly would if it was on record for life. I decided to look into the idea of these disappearing messages as this interests me as I use Snapchat, a picture messaging app, where the images disappear after up to 10 seconds.


Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Disappearing Messages Are Everywhere


  • A growing number of startups, led by rapidly growing photo-sharing app Snapchat, are challenging the assumption with apps that allow you to send text and multimedia messages that—like in Mission Impossible or Inspector Gadget—quickly self-destruct (minus, of course, an actual explosion). Even Facebook has gotten in on the action, releasing a Snapchat lookalike app called Poke for sending friends notes, pictures, and videos.
  • While technology allowing us to send and receive expiring messages is not new, these apps offer a very simple way to exercise control over your data in a world where your so-called permanent record is now documented across the Web.
  • Snapchat: In December, users were sharing 50 million snaps per day; this has since risen to 100 million.
  • Some critics decry Snapchat as a tool for sexting
  • Wickr lets users send encrypted text, audio, video, or photo messages that the recipient can read for up to six days before it evaporates.

This idea of disappearing messages seems appealing to people who want to send something ‘naughty’ however don’t want it on record, but are these ‘disappearing’ messaged all that they say they are? Snapchat is an example of how it isn’t definitely disappearing; on the App users are able to send images to a contact for up to 10 seconds, then theses images ‘disappear’, however the receiver of the message can ‘screenshot’ the photo and save it themselves meaning they have a record of that image even if the sender did not want it saved. The sender has to trust the receiver to not save the image especially if it is a ‘naughty’ image; this looks at the relationship and power between the sender and the receiver that could be interesting to look at. Furthermore the app itself has some other issues regarding the ‘disappearing messages…

Snapchat ‘deceived users’ about disappearing messages, will be monitored by gov’t


  • Snapchat is a messaging application that allows users to share pictures, short videos, messages and video chats with a friend or group. These messages, called Snaps, can be viewed for up to 10 seconds before they disappear.
  • “In most cases, once the recipient has viewed a message, it is automatically deleted from Snapchat’s servers and cannot be retrieved,” the company writes about its product. The app says it will notify a user if their Snap has been screen-captured by the recipient. But a study carried out by a US firm last April said Snapchat was not in fact designed to erase the files.
  • In a blog post, the FTC went into detail on how even those people who aren’t particularly tech-savvy could save Snaps. “When a recipient got a video message, Snapchat stored the file in a location outside of the app’s ‘sandbox,’ the private storage area on the device that other apps can’t access. Because the file was in an unrestricted place, the recipient could connect their device to a computer and use simple browsing tools to locate and save the video,” the blog post says. “That method was widely publicized as early as December 2012, but the FTC says Snapchat didn’t fix the flaw until almost a year later when it began encrypting video files sent through the app.”

This shows the idea of deception and trust in an interesting way, relating to the digital world and the ideas of who can we trust within this digital world. I am really interested in the ideas of deception and trust within the internet and digital world and so I plan to look into these themes more and possible use them for my final project. Furthermore even though it is unlikely that I will be able to find Hunter again, I plan to continue talking to other people on online Chatrooms to see if I can create anymore more interesting connections with them.


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