Kim Barbour is a PhD candidate, research assistant, and tutor at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. She received a Bachelor of Communications Degree with First Class Honours and a Masters of Arts degree (First Class) at the University of Waikato, Hamilton New Zealand, focussing on the creative industries and arts marketing. Kim’s current research looks at relationships between artists, identity and social media technologies, with deviations into embodiment, political economies, labour and value. She blogs at kjbarbour.blogspot.com. As a tutor, Kim teaches on media and communications papers. As a research assistant, she works for David Marshall on persona studies projects, including project management responsibilities across a number of projects. Kim also works as a research assistant for the Deakin Motion.Lab, a motion capture facility.
In order to investigate online presentations of the self, this Ph.D. research will investigate the personas of individuals working within four fringe art forms – street art, tattoo, craftivism (also known as indie craft or DIY craft) and slam poetry. These four art forms incorporate visual, textual, tangible, ephemeral, political, economic, labouring, performance based, anonymous and nonymous elements of fringe art. As traditionally marginalised art forms, those who choose to work within these fields generally operate outside of the art world’s gallery, critic, publication, production and representation systems, and the support networks available to artists are small, made up primarily of enthusiasts and other practitioners. The way that the participants perform a version of themselves as ‘an artist’ through web and social networking sites (presentational media spaces), and the way that these personas interact within their networks, is key to this research. An online persona is the conscious and deliberative construction of a self or identity that is publically available in web settings. I follow Marshall’s definition of persona studies as “an investigation of the presentation of the self, in an era where self-presentation has moved quite dramatically to centre-stage for large expanses of the populace” (2010). Although the framing of persona studies as a field of enquiry by Marshall is in its infancy, the study of identity creation online is found through multiple disciples in the academic community, including psychology, media and communications, education, cultural studies, theatre studies, and marketing. This Ph.D. project uses a hermeneutic phenomenological approach which draws on the strengths of the above disciplines and their approaches to online identity construction.
Marshall, PD 2010, 'Persona Studies: mapping the proliferation of the public self', paper presented to Celebrity News: an Oxymoron, Geneva, Switzerland, 15 September, 2010.