In the literature guiding pet owners through the process of putting down an ailing animal, there is a checklist of questions to consider.
One must observe their physical state: is the animal tearing at itself? Is it missing hair? Does it hide itself away out of reach?
I read the last questions over and over 
Does it still like to play? Does it seem happy?
Sometimes I observe myself in a mirror, in photographs and ask
Does it still like to play? Does it seem happy?

The art is not just the story, but how it is told. Marshall McLuhan would agree that the platforms of our narratives have become intractable from how we tell those stories, and so too, the content. I make art about social media, about my cell phone, and I exhibit that art on the internet, from my cell phone, on social media. My practice is terrifyingly meta, constantly shifting and always on the precipice of obsolescence. This relationship between tool and output is reflected back through my body and work.

The cell phone as extension of self, archive of experience and living document is my focus in research and praxis. The new vernacular image, snapshots, differ from those of the past in which there was intentionality in their taking—at the outset, carrying and reaching for a camera. Phones are now constant, their cameras ubiquitous, we shoot first and ask questions later, their taking is faster and more voluminous than every before, data unruly and unchecked by the seemingly limitless cloud. media-sharing platforms allow for elevated narrative arrangement of day to day banality, we watch each other, we watch our watchers watching.

Narrative and dark humour are foundational to my photographic practice, preoccupied with sequences, pairings and punchlines. With a cell phone, my work has become instinctual and reflexive in the taking, the editing of sequence is delayed, ruminative and determinedly undetermined, a process in distinct parts. Web and instagram are where I play with time and space, measuring the reading of my images and words, expanding a pause or removing the breath between images. multiple meanings are created through openness of arrangement, rearrangement, pattern recognition, and matching.
I make use of contemporary image conventions and clichés, speaking this language so that I may play with its words. In the carefully staged theatre of life playing out on social media, there is an expectation that we must telegraph our wellness, all bright smiles, shiny hair and glowing skin. We know the filters and selective vocabulary of this kind of performative living. In subverting these markers, I aestheticize my body horror, showing a softer side of disintegration. 

I still like to play.
I just have to make my own games.

JULIA MARTIN holds a BFA in Photography Studies from Ryerson University in Toronto, and an MFA from the University of Ottawa. She is currently based in Ottawa, Ontario. 


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