A Cabinet of Moments

Collecting and Displaying Visual Content from WeChat

Doi: https://doi.org/10.47659/m3.088.art

The Chinternet Archive is a collection of tens of thousands of digital images that artist Michelle Proksell has been collecting over years of everyday use of Chinese social messaging app WeChat. These images all come from public WeChat accounts that Michelle finds through a location-based function of the app called “People Nearby”. By regularly exploring the social media profiles of individuals in a one-kilometer radius from her geographical position, Michelle has been able to collect visual content shared by WeChat users in several Chinese cities as well as ten countries around the world. From filtered selfies to cheesy graphics, and from recurring themes of vernacular photography to emerging genres of postdigital aesthetics, the images collected in the Chinternet Archive offer precious and intimate insights into the everyday lives of Chinese digital media users. This essay introduces Michelle’s collection, presents various research projects and artworks through which the authors have made use of the archive, discusses the potentialities of working with visual content as well as the dangers of appropriating found images in the era of ubiquitous photography.

The Chinternet Archive is a collection of tens of thousands of digital images that artist Michelle Proksell has been collecting over years of everyday use of Chinese social messaging app WeChat. These images all come from public WeChat accounts that Michelle finds through a location-based function of the app called “People Nearby”. By regularly exploring the social media profiles of individuals in a one-kilometer radius from her geographical position, Michelle has been able to collect visual content shared by WeChat users in several Chinese cities as well as ten countries around the world. From filtered selfies to cheesy graphics, and from recurring themes of vernacular photography to emerging genres of postdigital aesthetics, the images collected in the Chinternet Archive offer precious and intimate insights into the everyday lives of Chinese digital media users. This essay introduces Michelle’s collection, presents various research projects and artworks through which the authors have made use of the archive, discusses the potentialities of working with visual content as well as the dangers of appropriating found images in the era of ubiquitous photography.

The Chinternet Archive is a collection of tens of thousands of digital images that artist Michelle Proksell has been collecting over years of everyday use of Chinese social messaging app WeChat. These images all come from public WeChat accounts that Michelle finds through a location-based function of the app called “People Nearby”. By regularly exploring the social media profiles of individuals in a one-kilometer radius from her geographical position, Michelle has been able to collect visual content shared by WeChat users in several Chinese cities as well as ten countries around the world. From filtered selfies to cheesy graphics, and from recurring themes of vernacular photography to emerging genres of postdigital aesthetics, the images collected in the Chinternet Archive offer precious and intimate insights into the everyday lives of Chinese digital media users. This essay introduces Michelle’s collection, presents various research projects and artworks through which the authors have made use of the archive, discusses the potentialities of working with visual content as well as the dangers of appropriating found images in the era of ubiquitous photography.

You must be a subscriber to view the main content of this page. Please subscribe to an option that fits your needs and get access to core content! If you are already a subscriber just sign in below. If you have purchased a subscription via Offline payment, the content will be unlocked upon receiving your payment.

In general terms, uploading and circulating visual content on social media entails intricate decisions regarding self-presentation and calculated performances of identity.
Reading Time: 19 minutes
Reading Time: 19 minutes
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Similar subject

Each innovation in visual media changes the way the world behind our back was seen.
Grimace culture finally reached its peak with the development of self-portraiture, proving a certain madness, which had previously only existed in asylums, was now everywhere around us, in various amounts.
Advertising images and marketing discourses constantly invoke desires that render the most banal objects desirable to us.
The collision of image politics opens up an intriguing series of misrecognitions passed between the original photographer, Egyptian censorship formulas and the public audience.
These screenshots of the blue background interface crashing into multiple windows overwhelmed by the joy of corporeal indexicality are already digital archaeology, a testimony to an out-dated bureaucratic classificatory system of French colonial legacy, soon to disappear under the auspices of a new open access database.
Historically, snapshots have always been about the everyday, the banal, the repetitive, the cliched events that are part of everyone’s lives. And by using Snapchat, almost any everyday activity can be combined with the production and distribution of an everyday image.
If physiognomic art and science are to bridge further, and not only represent but refine knowledge about face, then today’s artists and audience must gaze back into the black box, and cast the light of Diogenes on how media inform how we think about what we feel.
Increase in the ways to detect digital photo-manipulation puts digital forensics in the position of re-establishing “reality” as a referential point by tracing every step of the process of alteration, turning the dubitative image into one that is doubt-free once its metadata has been analysed.

Our site uses cookies to improve our services. As an user you need to agree to the usage and accept our conditions. We are currently using only necessary cookies for normal web page functioning. For more information visit our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. For more information on the cookies that we use please check the list below.  

Cookies that we use

PHPSESSID
This cookie is native to PHP applications. The cookie is used to store and identify a users’ unique session ID for the purpose of managing user session on the website. The cookie is a session cookies and is deleted when all the browser windows are closed.

I consent to the cookie usage, agree with the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and want to continue using the web-page. 

sign up

and get the latest news and calls for papers & projects