Exploring our relationship with social media through thought-provoking rings


By Su Fen Tan

Exploring our relationship with social media through thought-provoking rings

Take a second for a little reflection right now as you’re reading this. What is your typical medium of choice when it comes to accessing the Internet? Let’s not take working hours into the equation. Chances are, more than half of us are surfing the net via our smartphones at this very moment. Catching up with the latest news, scrolling through social media, staying in touch with our loved ones, binging on Netflix—we can do it all from the pint-sized device in the palm of our hand.

According to this report by Statista, in August 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) accounted for 51.65 percent of web page views worldwide, while over 62 percent of webpage views in Asia were generated via mobile. With the increase in mobile phone consumption also comes the increase in scrutiny on the effects of this technology on human behaviour. How much time are we spending on average on the device? Are we addicted to social media?

Approaching this topic through unique jewellery creations and images that are just as striking is Social Media Jewellery, an artistic project borne from the mind of creative director Isabel Martinez a.k.a. Isabelita Virtual in collaboration with contemporary jewellery artist Berta Sumpsi. Reflecting on the effects of digital technology on human behavior, they came up with four conceptual rings; each one distinctive and representative of particular aspects of social media. We reached out to Martinez to delve a little deeper into the depths of Social Media Jewellery:

The Hater Ring | "The anonymity factor contributes to online rudeness and trolling. With our interactions extending to the digital realm, it’s difficult to practice a reflexive process. The rise of hate-ridden behaviour in recent years appears to mirror the rise in popularity of social media

Hi Isabel! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

“I’m an Independent Creative Director. I collaborate with brands to help them build a strong identity and to connect with their audiences. Besides this, I develop special projects related to arts, fashion and culture.”

How did the Social Media Jewellery project come about?

“Four years ago I was in a bar in New York with my friend Cecilia Azcarate.  We started talking about smartphones and hands as the link between people and their devices. Then the concept of Social Media Jewellery came up—but at that point it was just an abstraction. Some time afterwards when in Barcelona I rescued the idea and started thinking about making a collection of rings to represent the different kind of human behaviours on the Internet, specially in social media.

“I talked with jewellery artist Berta Sumpsi to develop a collection of four rings: the Hater ring, the Ephemeral ring, the All Day Long ring and the Likes ring. Each of them represent a metaphor of how we interact with others and the impact of social media in our daily life. In a nutshell, Social Media Jewellery is a reflection of the effects of social media on human behaviours.”

The Ephemeral Ring | "Ephemeral content is rich media, primarily images and videos, that are only accessible for a brief period. As a marketing strategy, it is temporary content that takes advantage of the fear of missing out and it’s designed to elicit an immediate response from the user.

What do you hope people will take away from this project? What is the main message behind it?

“This project is not against the Internet or technology but the opposite. It’s a vindication of responsible use of tech and social media to make users feel more free and more conscious. Today there are hundreds of studies, statistics, books and companies talking about this issue. I wanted to approach the subject from a different perspective. Not so conclusive. I didn’t want to be dogmatic nor a prophet of doom but to spark a conversation.”

What were the initial reactions towards the project like?

“It has been interesting to see how people engage with the project. It has captured the attention of different fields of work from arts to fashion and different kind of people and different parts of the world; I think it is easy to identify yourself with the feelings and behaviours the project is about.”

I didn’t want to be dogmatic nor a prophet of doom but to spark a conversation

Can you describe your personal relationship with tech and social media?

“I owe a lot to social media. I started to attract people’s attention by posting my work on social media through the small screen of a smartphone. It was a door to explore my own creativity. Years later I started developing projects about the effects of social media like Midnight Sunrise, an artwork that is a reflection on humanity’s deep need of quiet, paradoxically providing a moment of inner peace in the center of Times Square.”

How has the digital environment changed or affected the way you approach your work?

“Smartphones are helping us produce more photographs than ever before. Today to take a picture means to share it with the world immediately. We “connect” with others through images. At the same time we need to think about how deep are these connections. I’m interested in the hidden part of this connections; I love to do projects that are a reflection of this in motion reality.”

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While social media’s ascent in the digital landscape has been swift and widely embraced, it has come with its fair share of negative connotations too – as highlighted by your project. What are your hopes for the role of social media in the time to come?

“Tech is a double-edged sword. It can make you feel powerful and unique at one moment, and a miserable rat the second. Tech is distracting us and making us anxious. We are glued to our screens, this way is difficult to take distance to see further. I think there is a good question to ask ourselves: Why? Why we do what we do? What’s the goal?

“It depends on us how we want to develop the digital landscape, specially in social media, which nowadays is more similar to a market place than a true communal experience but there is hope, because at the end of the day, what all us want is to love and be loved to connect with others is the best way to achieve this goal.”

For more information on Social Media Jewellery, visit the website.

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