Toban Nichols



secret online project, Instagram @essentia_aeternum


An online project based in Instagram, “essentia_aeternum" (or self_forever) is a mash up of the culture of the self portrait, or more commonly known as the selfie.

Utilizing the social media app Instagram, I created a new account with no relation to my own social media pages, no way of finding out about the new project except through carefully chosen hashtags. Two terms with more than 3 million views between them, the word “selfie” and “art” were chosen as the conduit to the new account called simply essentia_aeternum. The hashtag #essentia was also added to each selfie mash up to act as a code word, rabbit hole, and short cut.

The rules that govern the project are:

  1. never reply to any comment made on the profile, unless they comment first
  2. never like anyone else’s photos, unless they like yours first
  3. never follow anyone, unless they follow you
  4. keep the project as mysterious as possible.

The only clues left that might lead someone to the project is the hashtag #essentia left in three inconspicuous places with no other context surrounding it.

The hashtag is on the original photo of my face on my own Instagram account, on my Facebook page for my art, and in a one word hashtag on Twitter. Audience members are left to their own devices to decipher what and where the project is.