Klare Lanson writer, editor, performance poet
︎ ︎ ︎  <- social system of tools and emotional labour.   tick tick ->


The lived experience of being at home radically shifted during rolling COVID-19 lockdown restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021, with significant impacts on genderised working and parenting practices. This selfie motif hashtag project draws on creative practice ethnography (Hjorth et al. 2020), mobile media studies and new materialism to critically unpack the performative shelfie as a digital-material assemblage that literally displays these effects. Many of the shelfies enacted a collective sigh for the blurring dichotomies of public/private and mothering/working practices, where the home became an entangled space of paid work and unpaid domestic labour.

The participatory encounter #listeningtomediatedmothers (2020–2021) enacts the shelfie as a qualitative digital ethnographic probe to creatively explore work-life balance in the lives of 13 participants located in regional Victoria, Australia. It revealed mediated shelfies as complex, multidimensional, and dynamic representations of the mothering self. Lively experiences of digital materiality come to the fore with far reaching socio-technical and creative implications for ethnographies of social media selfie motifs—as a creative practice of participatory engagement, digital archiving and in situ research.

The hashtag itself can also be understood as part of the new materialist process of intra-action (Barad 2007)—residing at the nexus between infrastructural platform affordances and collective quotidian experience—also enabling more enhanced understandings of digital labour within the networked home. By utilising the selfie as one of the most inescapable barometers of popular culture today, motifs such as the shelfie enables extended networked listening and multisensorial forms of genderised ‘voice'. 

View this quick response selfie motif project on ︎.