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November 29, 2017

Oddly specific essay collection delves into images of Mark Zuckerberg

by John_A

Ever feel like a deep dive into the significance of images depicting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg? You’re in luck, because the inaugural volume of The California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg offers up six essays that do just that.

In July 2017, Tim Hwang put out a call via Medium looking for contributors to the publication, stating a desire for “papers exploring the visual culture of Mark Zuckerberg.” Four months on, he has assembled a set of probing thinkpieces that have a lot to say about how the controversial figure is presented by himself and others.

To really get to grips with the tone of The California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg, it’s helpful to look at some of Hwang’s other work. He previously edited journals that looked at Adventure Time and The Venture Bros. in great detail. On the surface, they might seem like a parody of self-serious articles found in cultural journals, but there’s some interesting insight to be had, even given the occasionally jokey tone.

Take, for instance, the comparison between the seemingly spur-of-the-moment shot of Zuckerberg that appeared as a profile picture back in 2013 with more recently professionally taken photographs, the central thesis of an essay by Dilara O’Neil.

Meanwhile, the supposed spontaneity of a photograph celebrating the success of Instagram is drawn into a question by the work of influential French theorist Roland Barthes in a compelling article by Melissa Lo.

Other contributors tackle topics like the challenges of accurately visualizing data, Facebook’s global expansion as neocolonialism, the use of the “fireside chat” by the tech industry, and Zuckerberg’s sweat glands.

Given that Facebook has given billions of people a method of establishing an online presence, it makes sense to take a good look at the way that the man behind the social network represents himself. The California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg certainly offers up some interesting ideas about what it means to craft a public identity in the digital age.

Zuckerberg is currently in the process of a rebranding effort that is thought to be one component of a future political campaign. This journal sheds some light on how that’s being accomplished.




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