Blister Skin

Creative Work
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Blister Skin is a hyper-local and hyper-ephemeral intervention in filter bubbling. We are so used to being alone with the internet that our actions there feel private as a bedroom or a body: screensharing may make our typing slow or anxious, we may choose cafe seats that shield our computer screens from strangers’ eyes, and questions about our phone activity may feel invasive. Algorithms of such companies as Google and Facebook further alienate our online lives by making the internet we live in materially different from that occupied by our friends. Indeed, while our activity online is near-invisible to those around us, it is transparent to those companies. This online alienization, of course, leads to radicalization with grim political effects -- for example, the election of the current American president. Blister Skin invites us to invade the (capitalist white American straight cis-male) bot gaze by watching what others do online. It thus reminds us that we are not alone with our screens, but constantly watched/directed. At the same time it reveals, through subtle differences in search habits, how distinct our internet lives have become. Though many video-contributors reported meaningful discomfort while recording their online searches, the more radical gesture of Blister Skin is the viewers’ watching. I chose the subject of fear because it is the (deeply private) experience I most associate with filter bubbling: we bubble for fear; our bubbling incites fear through radicalization; I fear bubbling. The text reminds viewers/readers that Blister Skin is soaked in my own local subjectivity/bubbling. After all, while the videos expose my friends’ bubbles hyper-locally and hyper-ephemerally, collectively they tell a much clearer story about me.

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Vian Rasheed