Twenty-first century technology and its uses has increased the visibility of girl’s bodies in mass and social media, revealing a pattern in posing that is complicated by a long artistic tradition of female body presentation. In an effort to make sense of this mediated self-styling, Play & Pose is a web application and exhibition experience which promotes design as a tool for visual and media literacy. The primary aim is to expand the visual vocabulary of posing by investigating the history of some of the most common poses found online. A secondary, more didactic concern is to encourage conscious decision-making when posing and posting images. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this exploratory study offers an interactive methodology for collecting and cataloguing poses; including a case study with thirty girls ages 12–16 and Instagram as a site for research. It further provides a critical analysis of these poses through a variety of contextual lenses; including Visual Communication Design, Art History, Feminist Studies, and Screen Culture.
In this paper and project, I offer an analysis that acknowledges some of the potential problems within our selfie culture regarding female body presentation and suggest a design intervention that advocates design as a tool for media and visual literacy. The goal is to bring awareness to the history of female body presentation and encourage consciousness through a web application and exhibition called Play & Pose.