Identity Through Representation: What Hidden Performers Reveal About Identity Construction (Dissertation)


Issues around identity are made most apparent when an aspect of identity is missing. Whilst modern pop star personas exploit the existence of the empirical human beings behind their identity constructions as a site for authentication, identification and commercial success, there are artist that have eschewed this approach in favour of hidden performances. Daft Punk have replaced their own author image with robotic representations that reflect a music that deals with the aesthetics of technology. Through creating the virtual pop band Gorillaz, Damon Albarn is able to reclaim his creative freedom to role-play and, in partnership with Jamie Hewlett, create music and a virtual world reflective of the digital technologies they are enabled by. Sia's anti-fame manifesto in billboard magazine set out her desire to forego the fame that accompanies the music that she has written for some of the world'd biggest pop stars. Her own music is deeply personal and her use of obscured identity has enabled her to express herself without trapping herself into a single, potentially stigmatising, identity.

In all three cases, there are personal and creative freedoms that come from the removal of the artists’ personal image from the public gaze. However, to allow them to operate within the confines of the commercial imperatives of major label politics, these artists must replace the their personal appearance with an alternative author image. These post-modern constructions that are offered up in place of the artist’s personal appearance reveal the constructed nature of all pop personas, as well as highlighting the fluid and changing nature of the self-identities that we each must socially construct. This study draws on key works on Identity (Bauman, Lawler, Webb) as well as key texts on stardom and authenticity (Dyer, Goodwin, Moore) and undertakes musical analyses using key production frameworks (Moore, Gibson, Moylan, Lacasse).
Keywords: Identity, Anonymity, Representation, Hidden, Post-Modern, Authenticity, Pop Star, Persona, Star System.

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