Clareese Hill

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Clareese Hill's MPhil/PhD Art research project

The Heuristics of Post-Identity Phenomenology Through Digitally Mediated Disruptions

The topic of research for my practice-led Ph.D. thesis explores the problematics of the language and notions of the word identity by unpacking the intersection of virtual communities and contemporary Western identity theory. The work finds anchoring in the question of the process of creating an active disruption in what is perceived as identity, and the role it deploys within the possibility of these disruptions being implemented by the individual to break the monotonous cycle of the Identity System to achieve a state of Post-Identity otherness.

I'm interested in what happens when the validity of the Identity System is challenged and dismantled. Identities in the Identity System are tied to social constructs that dictate stereotypical behavior based on race, gender, class, and other subcategories for further designation. The Identity System operates autonomously as the individual performs their identity where verification is the ideal outcome as a result of the performance. The basis for the speculative methodology I am using to challenge the Identity System is the phenomenon of identity autonomy that happens in virtual communities. Virtual communities offer a framework for how disembodied identities operate. The offer of genuine autonomy is an illusion as these communities are often products designed to surreptitiously occupy your time and identity under the guise of providing geographically diverse curated relationships and communications.

Because of the nature of virtual communities, anomalies in the Identity System can be provoked as the performance of the physical body, and the performance of the digital identity misalign in accordance with the assumed stereotypical behavior of the identities. These anomalies can be experienced as either positive or negative and can be realized as alienation, bullying, and a false sense of reality;  just to name a few. Thinking about virtual communities as phenomenological opportunities for one to experiences "being "when their body is no longer necessary for the identity to be present, how can this occurrence of "being" be explored in order to intentionally create a separation of the identity from the body to expand into a state of being you without "you"?  What does this impetus for intentional separation suggest for the active states of identity, body, and, Being?

Using the speculative methodology of re-engineering the notion of virtual communities, I elicit the possibility to use these anomalies to challenge the Identity System. If an individual experiencing the problematics of their projected identity instigates intentional disruptions to the Identity System by wielding the anomalies generated against the system, the identity is liberated from the universal state of "being" by facilitating ruptures in what is understood as identity. The praxis of commanding anomalies, disruption, and ruptures converge on the ability to conjure a portal to Post-Identity otherness and experience a true state of Being. The portal suggests a space where identities can exist sans the body, allowing for a rest from the Identity System and the projected identity.


  • Michelle Williams
  • Gamaker Helen Pritchard

Meditation Skin Translation 2018