Recently Georgina Turner and the artist Simon Farid (you can read more about his work on identity here) went to the first global ‘Deception: Probing the Boundaries’ conference, hosted at Mansfield College, Oxford. Participating in the ‘Identity and self’ session, they unveiled for the first time Simon’s efforts to inhabit – or squat – the identity fabricated as cover for, and then discarded by, the former undercover police officer Mark Kennedy.
Starting from the premise that nobody is “Mark Stone”, we were interested in investigating the limits of identity and the interaction between technology and our understanding of our administrative and social selves. What was left of “Mark Stone”? What could be done with that? How could the identity be added to, and (when) would anybody or anything stop that process? And, crucially, what does it mean to use this identity; how does it feel? On this last point, the conference threw up some interesting parallels with literary hoaxers’ attempts to ‘be somebody else’.
You can see what Simon did in this photostory, and you can access the draft paper and audio of the presentation here. Simon and Georgina are also writing this work up in a longer piece reflecting on the autoethnographic process.