Dries Depoorter is an artist obsessed with privacy. He spent a year uploading random screenshots of his computer onto social media. In another, he gave the world constant access to his exact GPS coordinates, so you could stalk him virtually on Google Street View.
For his latest project, Tinder In, Depoorter delves into the privacy of others. It’s a collection of side-by-side portrait. Each features a professional photo someone uploaded for their LinkedIn profile, and a somewhat saucier version they’ve uploaded for the virtual meat market of Tinder.
“The profiles are real,” Depoorter explains. “And those girls live around me, because you can only search Tinder for girls around you.”
Of course, Tinder limits you to seeing someone’s first name. But there’s a pretty big hole in the security that doesn’t require any hacking skill to exploit. Tinder profiles can be linked to Instagram profiles, and the Instagram profile will often supply a last name. And so with someone’s full, Google-able name, he can often dig them up on LinkedIn. The process was so quick, that his project started in the morning, and he had about 10 completed by the evening.
His resulting thesis is hilarious to see played out. On LinkedIn, we’re stuffy, formal professionals. On Tinder, we shed the suit and show some skin. It’s like a window into the different sides of our psyche that come out in different contexts, except that window is self-published on social media.
One woman included in the process–whom we’ve left anonymous–didn’t find it quite so amusing. After her bikini-clad photo was placed side-by-side with her formal LinkedIn profile, she responded, “Well…I’m a little bit at a loss for words in all honesty. My rational side knows I don’t own anything I post online, and yet I feel a sense of theft and loss. In a way it is flattering to be included because I guess the dichotomy of my two pictures appealed to the artist. Both represent me well, two aspects of myself at least. The professional, ambitious one [on LInkedIn] and the hitchhiking, swimming in natural pools in the middle of the mountains one [on Tinder]…I just find that the artist is somehow cheating the viewer of a complete vision of a person.”
Is that a result of the artist cheating the viewer, or the whole system of social networks cheating us all? Are we, as users of these strongly branded social media networks, coerced into showing snippets of ourselves that will fit their particular rubric of what’s socially acceptable?
Of course we are. Nobody wears a bikini on LinkedIn because nobody wears a bikini to a job interview. But this subject pointed out two things that you wouldn’t know from her depiction in this art collection. First, she actually had her bikini/mountain spring photo as her Facebook profile picture, too. It wasn’t just a provocative shot saved for Tinder. And second, her main Tinder photo, which someone would see first, was actually a more typical, fully clothed photo. This was inside her profile, only discoverable through deeper swiping.
“Maybe I feel cheated [because I was] somehow reduced to someone who oversexualizes herself on a dating app when I feel it isn’t the case,” she explains. “He had to tap on my picture, and see them all to get to it. It’s the only picture where I showed a little bit of skin, actually.”
Depoorter openly admits such was the case, and I’ve been chewing on the implications of his project since. Operating within the confines of its own bubble, Tinder In is both funny and provocative in a way that calls out the self-projections we all adopt to fit in. But on any individual level, the project lacks nuance. And so it falls into the trap of being yet another social construct of the Internet.
This post has been updated without the earlier, non-anonymized pieces in Depoorter’s collection that he’s unpublished following complaints.