DEFINING DIGITAL IDENTITY
by Jeremy Danté
while this piece was being drafted, a fraudulent instagram account, using a 2010 image of me shot by tarrice love was discovered. already thinking about this piece, and delving into it as i have done other topics in this space, i’ve been thinking about identity, what it means to go digital, and how my pathway has represented me. through building LITA; and really identifying what each value means singularly as well as a four-pillar post of ideals- i thought, “who is the person i am today, and how is who i’ve been in the past reflected in that?” these questions spur into a web of other mental conversations with self. questions become answered, only leading you to the next question. and soon enough you’re aboard a train of thought, that seemingly has no stops ahead.
taking a glitched, soft focus drift back into the 90’s – 1996 or so, let’s say. i remember my grandma on my dad’s side getting her first computer. i remember her AOL account name, furnishing the user98943 type of automatic email generator. so many things about that time, have remained etched in my brain. the sounds of the experience, hearing dial up being connected, the customization and decision making process of creating a screen name. who to connect with, and how? what would you send in an email? how would you make it personal? how would you make it, you? the feeling of the keyboard, and the rhythm you catch when you learn to type. or even remembering proper keyboard placement. the luxury of printing in color. it’s all such a glitched moment now, because it’s an era that has long gone. the accessibility to things has placed greater artistic mastery of how best to translate who you are, through something as impersonal as digital. entering into the next decade and life of who i am, through the internet; celebrating ten years in this space makes it necessary to create a creative check point for what has been done, so we can propel forward. my dad suggested to me in 1996, “you should build your own website”; way ahead of blogs, long before instant messenger and before we were HTML coding for myspace, which is what eventually became my start to the digital world of building an image. while i scoffed at the images of others, laughing at how disconnected these “images” were from real life. i vowed to always take the realest approach to showing who i am, whenever willing to share it. obviously, you drift to and from the private space to the public space. concerns of oversharing. it still blows my mind how ahead the suggestion from my dad was. i was still trying to survive oregon trail, google wasn’t just beginning to form, as a team.
the content of this site, for starters, developed quickly but authentically. acting as a digital notepad of fashion happenings, guided by the fashion calendar provide the premise. but the lingual context that really reached to connect with kids in the hood, to translate fashion to them outside of rap, was the aim. the framework of how women were praised, and how the content created around them either supported or flawed them. a genius study, and true mirror of sociology at play, but also hidden yet represented through image. the styling of hair, down to the texture, the classist placement of images through photographers and the darwinistic process we just call, “casting”. understanding there was more, i; much like the campaigns and casting pieces became hidden yet represented by the content. the choice to show full fashion editorial; or to go through the process of looking at every single piece of clothing that walked the runway not just in new york, but in london, paris and milan; and for one season tokyo, which proved to be too far a departure for my audience. (i know guys, as cool as shit is in japan, those reviews just didn’t stick)
i initially adopted the same process of models for big name brands. as a default example, naomi campbell for versace. the model being dubbed, “the face of..” — and in an effort to represent true content through a better lens of curiosity (bryan boy really ain’t shit) for culture; i dubbed myself ’the face of fashion blogging’ to be the representative for what form of writing seemed to be void of writing, and void of intellect to be honest. dolce & gabbana caught it and did a write up, when they were still somewhat cool. and soon after burberry PR and i got into conversation, which resulted in me being one of the first to live stream a fashion show. Flash to the Kanye tweet, which was a digital transport of the link to Kanye West during the recording sessions of “my beautiful dark twisted fantasy” by ryan leslie. which flashes to the MTV press coverage, the stint as a content writer for chris brown. each moment, like a domino in one string of notches one knocking another into the next. with no further attempts to laundry list my blog resume (gag me); what is most interesting to reflect on for me, is how i’ve managed to represent myself.
today, my work revolves around the representation of others, and in essence, it always has. but if i wasn’t able to represent myself, this type of work; and even taking on the challenge would’ve been out of the question. through study of sociology, i discovered a theory of self actualization, and knew this happened to me in my sophomore year of high school. i remember entering into a really clear head space; which affected the ways i related to people, how selective i was socially and where i fit into this world. understanding that, though small, we can do powerful things that affect and influence the lives of others. through understanding this, i learned to manipulate privacy, and secrecy, through creating an allure. that magnetic approach to generating content, brought people in an the perspective i brought into the fold is what kept them. over time, and through consistent shooting off of content and thought, grew the site.
into the future, with recognition of the past, representing models and artists who haven’t considered pockets within the strategy, is where the challenge lies. outside of myself, the work deals in the responsibility of seeing through flaws to find beauty, and seeing through beauty to find the flaws. it’s about connecting the disconnected, and convincing those not looking to buy to sell. it’s emotional, it’s creative; it’s a strategy. as a check point, that’s as subtle a voice as i could explain it, while also delving into the depths of what i am trying to share. im thinking about every step of the process, every single day, connecting me to you, and the past to the present, the future even further into the future. with responsibility, i’ve always approached every aspect of my work in this same fashion. no pun intended.