Glasgow-based artist James St Findlay says his Instagram project perfect.girlfriend is “90% about love”. His feed allows us to gorge on digital collage and montage, with a mixture of text, blurred photographic imagery, pasted drawings and video.
Findlay, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2016, uses the app to create caricatures of both of himself and others. Bodies are seemingly locked forever in the app format, with some being fluid enough to reach into offline projects.
With the addition of fictitious ‘locations’ for each post, such as ‘I Own My Life’ and ‘Gain Mass Fast’, the artist manages to place himself nowhere and everywhere, rendering a dialogue between reality and fantasy realms. This is fitting; much of his imagery is reminiscent of virtual realities similar to arcade games that offer false immortality to players and viewers.
Findlay is quick to acknowledge the “ease of communication” Instagram allows, making full use of its “immediacy and ever-growing versatility of content”. Over the last few years it has become a useful space for him to seek opportunities and collaborations, such as his work with The White Pube‘s touring show, ‘Nanny Cam’, in June 2017.
With more artists using Instagram to showcase and share their work, or to break it down as a mouldable medium for art making, it is interesting to think of the platform as a studio space, too. Besides his desk, Findlay confesses the app is all he’s got; it allows him to create work that, to a some extent, cannot exist anywhere else.
“I understand it’s not to everyone’s taste,” he says of his posts. “I get unfollowed by a lot by people I love and a lot of people tell me they don’t get what I’m doing.”
retro viral scanning party at MY DORM this FALL! bring you’re looseness and your truth and your sense of ownership. A post shared by B B (@perfect.girlfriend) on
Findlay’s wider practice involves drawing, writing, video and performance, making humorous and inclusive work using streams of consciousness and self-commentary. He is currently working on various writing projects, one of which will take the form of a book he is self-publishing in April.
Instagram, though, remains a versatile and experimental platform for his work. “I think the intended purpose has been lost amongst the sheer amount of stuff you can do with it now,” he says. “You can go totally inside your own mouth and your face can fall off and it’s just seen as normal – part of the app.”
Screenshot from perfect.girlfriend Intagram post, 28 June 2017. Courtesy: the artist