The body, flesh, and social networking sites Performing bodies in the digital age

Research papers
By Sandra Lemeilleur

The question of the body’s presence on social networking sites is redolent with fear of its disappearance and absorption, while virtualized images of the body are omnipresent on Facebook news feeds, and even more so on Instagram or on dating sites such as Tinder. In this light, the body becomes a malleable object, an echo of the subjectivity by which it is borne, produced, and posted. These are powerful, super-muscular, closely shaven bodies, photographed in the gym and tirelessly posted on social networking sites. Such bodies serve subjectivity as a means of providing an eternal, ever-visible body, a Body without Organs, to quote Artaud, in its ultimately complete form, and this thanks to digital tools. Yet, while the body is omnipresent, the flesh is missing, an incarnation of the body in its most evasive form. This is an event that triggers a set of furtive, rampant fantasies projected onto powerful but essentially absent bodies. More generally, the omnipresence of virtualized bodies and the absence of the flesh shapes our relationships with offline bodies, and representations become shifting. This paper explores the “good reasons” subjectivity has for producing so many images of bodies on social networking sites.

  • body
  • flesh
  • social networking sites
  • performance
  • subjectivity
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