A close up on a female ear shows unexpected signs: as tattooed on the skin the logos normally used within social networks now inhabit the surface of the lobe, you can recognize the heart of the likes obtained and the number of shares that the post has had . IMAGE 4, Julia’s Twitter 1 is the photographic work of Thai artist John Yuyi in which the era of social media is represented metaphorically and with subtle irony, using the transfigured human figure as a three-dimensional screen.

The body, in this case the ear and therefore a sense organ, is translated as a tool to enter into the media dynamics of exchanging likes and re-sharing, clicks and scrolls. The change in our appearance and our actions is a function of these likes or virtual responses that can be obtained. In this action there is a radical shift of attention in which the image takes a back seat and what becomes fundamental and relevant, for the algorithm as well as for human users, are the measurable and quantifiable units. It is the red numbers next to the little heart or the green numbers next to the re-sharing arrows that increase and decree the value of a photograph and no longer its content.

By applying these logos on his skin, John Yuyi proposes a reflection on the action we perform every day on our body and on our identity and on how we have adapted to a new perception and consideration of ourselves and others. Social platforms have invaded our reality to such an extent that it is no longer possible to separate the floors and talk about virtual or real. An overlap has occurred: Yuyi’s temporary tattoos are the sign of this revolution of self-representation and gaze.


The work is on display at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, within the collective How to win photography: Image-Making at Play. The exhibition will be open until 25 September 2022.


John Yuyi
IMAGE 4, Julia’s Twitter 1, 2016 © John Yuyi