Have you ever wondered how many eyes see those Facebook photos you post religiously? And have you ever tried to imagine what happens when a strangers eyes find your most embarrassing moments via a random Google image search,or where those photos may end up? If you have never thought about this Erin M. Riley‘s tapestries suggest that maybe you should start.
Working with a Macomber floor loom and wool that she dyes herself, Erin M. Riley weaves together tapestries depicting images from photographs found on Facebook and Google image search. By creating these tapestries Riley extracts images of women flashing the camera or using a mirror to create a distorted body image for the camera, from their Internet context. The result is an alarming display of women who, even in these modern times, continue to wrestle psychologically with their identity. “The images that I am most drawn to are ones depicting self-discovery, experimentation, regression or development,” Riley says. The irony in choosing photographs that fall into these categories is that they are very personal. Experiences– like being so drunk when you wake up there is permanent Sharpie all over you– that you should probably only unveil to your closest friends. Riley states, “The fact that sometimes very sad and personal images are available to the public is what I find the most disturbing.” Her images make clear that in the age of the Internet, relationships with others and especially with ourselves has changed.
Riley’s tapestries tell the story of how the Internet is pushing, pulling and in some cases completely burning up boundaries. Her work is a reminder that while the Internet may be liberating, it can also be damaging.
The tapestries above, which depict women taking self-portraits of themselves in the nude, exemplifies the fact that standards still dictate how a woman’s body should look, not to mention the fact that a women’s body is meant to be looked at. However, because it is the woman herself who is taking the picture the question arises, who is perpetuating the standard? After all these photos are images of the creation of an image and the creator is evidenced in the image itself. Is this practice of posting yourself in the public eye its own type of self-mutilation?
Riley’s tapestries are bold. Her pieces go into the lives of others and articulate the brutal truth about the level of superficiality and need for acceptance that plagues young women. Viewing her work is darkly comedic, but ultimately her work poses important questions about the psychological impact of the Internet on its subjects.
Riley’s work is currently being shown at the Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco. The show will be ending this week on December 4.
By: Mary Smith