The Rebus Names Project (2014)
I maintain an ambivalent relationship with the notions and practices surrounding the phenomenon of "Social Networking," best encapsulated by the (current) media juggernaut known as Facebook. As I am quite circumspect about publicly proclaiming the banalities of my personal, political and spiritual life, I often wondered if there is any way that I could benefit or find purpose in participating in this online world of "likes" and "comments."
Dispersed amongst the never-ending stream of quips, opinions, news stories and photos found on the site, however, a certain form of graphical post piqued my interest. These are non-photographic, often text-based images whose main purpose seems to be to inform, amuse or elicit an emotional response. These images come in many styles, from inspirational quotes in baroque cursive letters, to blunt polemical statements, which seem to call for a hearty and immediate show of support or disapproval. What unites these disparate images is an intention to encourage further dissemination from participant to participant: to become "viral," in contemporary parlance.
Intrigued by this notion of "spread-ability," inspired by the strategies of appropriation, reinterpretation and juxtaposition of existing media in image making, and, finally, joined with my interest in the notion of play and games, I initiated what I call the "Rebus Names Project."
In July 2014, I made a general call to my friends and colleagues on Facebook to participate in the Project. I translated an initial set of their names into "Rebus" puzzles, which use a combination of images and letters to suggest words or phrases.
I appropriated and curated commonly used "Stock Art" from a prominent photo and image aggregator, and created a series of images in this Rebus style, which I then disseminated amongst the participants.
A number of the participants then "shared" their respective Rebus puzzle images, using them as "Profile Pictures," or images that stand as the main image that represents a member of the Facebook community.
In addition, I re-purposed a selection of the digital images I had created as archival inkjet prints, which, along with a digital slideshow of the entire selection of eighty images, was exhibited in a San Francisco gallery in September 2014.