Fractured Identities


2018 - Ongoing

England, United Kingdom

About the Project – Fractured Identities:

The endless electronic messages and stimulus we receive from social media and other visual sources cause us to analyse and judge ourselves extensively through the eyes of others. The self is eroded and broken down. As a result, we find ourselves changing who we appear to be to meet the expectations of others. In Fractured Identities, photographer Jo Sutherst uses performance and self-portraiture to explore the ways in which social media affects the ways in which we present ourselves. Using a series of often comical props and cosmetics designed to enhance appearance, Sutherst explores the world of the media generated selfie.

Each of us has control over our online representation. We have complete and absolute control over our devices. We post, text, tweet and update whatever we want. Our devices allow us to show the world who we want to be seen as. Yet we are detached and isolated from the viewer. We do not exchange conversation other than through text. We edit every selfie so that we get it just as we want it. We fine-tune, write and rewrite every caption so that it delivers the correct message. We come across as completely different people in our online and offline relationships.

We cannot gauge another’s response to the image or caption. We do not receive face-to-face feedback, and we lack the self-perception that comes with a real-life relationship. Behind the screens of our computers and phones, we portray ourselves exactly the way we want. We cannot always do this in real life.

Through our ever-increasing use of technology, we are invited to rewrite our identities. So, how can we know if what we are looking at is true – or not?

About the photographer:

A photographer with a rare chronic endocrine disorder (Addison’s Disease), Jo was born in Coventry and is now based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Jo was shortlisted for the Picfair Women Behind the Lens award in 2017/8. She is interested in the psychology and emotions behind self-portraiture and what is actually feels like to be human in an ever increasingly online world. She has just completed her MA in Photography at Falmouth University, achieving a Distinction.

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  • Fractured Identities

  • Self-portrait - Raw and unedited image

  • The bags under my eyes are Chanel

  • Lash obsession - Mirroring the obsessive nature of selfies. These images are not digitally enhanced, but instead are of me wearing many different pairs of false lashes in around 90 minutes. I set out to achieve 9 images, but became obsessed with creating a bigger and bigger picture. I only gave up when my eyelids were so stuck together that it hurt to free them.

  • Enhancement? - PortraitPro Software was used to enhance each image incrementally. Is the final image an enhancement and improvement on the original?

  • The mask of divine proportion - (Marquardt Beauty Mask)

    The “golden ratio” proportions are found throughout nature. Dr Marquardt carried out research that lead him to develop a mask that defined a mathematical beauty code for the human face. In this image I take the mask, apply it to my face and then edit my face in Photoshop to make it conform to the mask. The resultant image is in the bottom lefthand corner.

  • The Contour Tribe - To consider the current trend of contouring and sharing the process and finished product online, I chose to apply different contouring to my face and use the images to create a tribal image.

    The image name is created from the makeup reference numbers in the supporting booklet.

    To consider the current trend of contouring and sharing the process and finished product online, I chose to apply different contouring to my face and use the images to create a tribal image

  • Instagram Posts - I came, I saw, I contoured

  • Make me more appealing for Instagram - I asked photo editors and retouchers around the world to enhance my portrait to make it "more appealing for Instagram"

    The edits are from (left to right, top to bottom):





  • Edited self - An eyelash obsession image edited to the maximum.