The Art of Self
The Art of Self by Joel A
“I share, therefore I am.” – Sherry Turkle, psychologist and MIT professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology
A decade ago if a friend randomly emailed me shots of his/her face each week, I would probably consider them slightly narcissistic, but today thanks to the forward facing cellphone camera, shots of self or “selfies” are the most common images on most online social platforms. So common, that the word selfie was just added to the Oxford English Dictionary. With smartphone users ranging from toddlers to senior citizens, it’s not just preteens or twentysomethings that are taking and sharing shots of themselves in their bathroom mirror. Recently news anchor, Geraldo Rivera, New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, and Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, have all created controversies regarding the appropriateness of their selfies.
It’s not just the act of taking a shot of yourself that makes it a selfie; it’s the follow-up of sharing that photo with your online social circle. Though critics have labeled selfies as vanity shots or examples of the type of destructive oversharing that has become common in this digital age, I believe that the motivation behind and eventual outcome of taking and posting a self-shot can be positive.
Sure in the beginning when selfies were carefully posed and photoshopped shots taken with your arm extended up to ensure the angle showed your best side, the motivation was vanity, but the selfie has evolved to become much more. Now shots are more off the cuff taken to share your goofy personality with the hopes of making a personal connection with others. A selfie can scream, “This is who I really am, the real face behind the phone or computer screen”. In the age of catfishing, it can reassure others of your legitimacy. Sure, any image can be stolen or doctored, but when selfies are shared repeatedly in casual settings, it usually decreases the likelihood of deception. A new trend in selfies is to post early morning shots without taking the time to put on makeup or style your hair. These shots are meant to convey a lack of caring how you are thought of by others, though anytime we share shots of ourselves online we are attempting to connect and trying to create an image or persona of how we want to be perceived no matter how little we style our hair.
Selfies can be a way to document and share your daily activities without taking the time to write a long post or blog. In the age of short attention spans, most people would prefer to look at the pictures of your face as you express disappointment in your day than read a post about it. Posting a selfie also ensures that you have control of how you appear online to others. No need to wait and be tagged in an awful picture by your best friend, just post your own shot and know you look the way you want to look online.
For mobile artists, we can be our best subject. Using our bodies or faces to communicate and our camera to capture just the right mood or expression that we wish to convey. A self image is cathartic, emotional and intense. With a well composed selfie, you can liberate yourself of emotional baggage, or share feelings of joy, love, delight, sadness or frustration. Like many other mobile artists, this is an avenue of artistic expression I often find myself stumbling down. On that note, I have asked some great mobile artists to post their selfies and any intimate thoughts or feelings they wish to share regarding their own self portraits.
Crystal F Spellman, Northern Kentucky, US
“self portrait (the one with the super8)”
It’s been cost prohibitive for me to shoot much film with my super8, but it is by far the nicest camera I own. I think this image for me is really about the fantasies I used to have about filmmaking, and also a way to still spend some quality time with one of my favorite objects.
Lene Basma, Drammen, Norway
“Life Lessons I: The Fool”
My images always have an element of therapy. That is also one of the reasons why I more often than not use myself as a model (another reason being that I just don’t have access to any other models…).
This image is part of a series I have called life-lessons. I am in a transition period of my life right now; new job, new house and redefining some of my closest relationships to better suit being a chronically ill, out-of-the-house working single mother. So I do a lot of thinking, about what there is to learn from this process, hence this series of images. This one was the first – and started out angry, where I felt like a fool, someone everyone takes advantage of, and ended up in a different place, a bit proud, proud that I have the courage to take on and rush in where angels do not dare to tread…
Michelle Robinson, Adelaide, South Australia
“Part 3: At 6 years old, she knew things she shouldn’t and didn’t understand. (The Secret Story)”
This is a project that I have started to tell my story. It is not a unique story, unfortunately. It happens to millions of children around the world. It was once suggested to me that I should write my life story but it is with clarity that I realise that my story will be a visual one. It is not merely a story of survival and hope. Hopefully, one day the story will reach a wider audience and touch those who are suffering in secret and silence to seek help, to empower themselves and to let them know they are not alone. Worse is if they are still trapped in the secrecy or perpetuating the cycle of abuse on themselves or their own children.
Paula Gardener, London, UK
“We are Queens”
EyeEm // Twitter // Flickr
The Queens of our past, birthed from the lands of this earth.
Brave, defiant, demanding equality in a mans world. They were the first true feminist. Standing strong, they fought against the oppression of their people. Empowered by the wisdom of their mothers, embracing the perfection of womanhood.
They knew no boundaries, legends of our history.
They stood for the Queen in each of us, that we may be proud of the heritage given to all women.
We are Queens.
Cédric Blanchon, Troyes, France
“Give Me Your Dream”
Selfies reflect my mood of the day . I am part of a group of artists who just create it , mobagparis. I’m very honored to be part of this association with many amazing artist, I’m in EyeEm, Instagram, Flickr, Iphoneart, Starmatic, with my real name, we can follow me!
Jennifer Bracewell, San Francisco Bay Area
“the midnight zone”
This is a self-portrait I shot today. Sometimes I edit my images nearly unrecognizable. I decided to do a minimal edit for this one, using just Mextures. (I posted a different version edited with vsco) I often use self portraits to help me through tough times. I’ve recently gone through some major changes in my life that have made me feel weak and scared. I wanted to feel the power I know I have inside me and show that through this portrait. I’m a tough one, don’t fuck with me. Sometimes I need reminding of that. My IG is _jenbeezy_. There’s a monochrome version there.
Mike Hill, New Orleans, LA
“That’s Dr. Frankensinatra, To You”
One day I came across a doctors mask I had, don’t ask me why I had one, and that got the gears in my brain turning, I figured a mad scientist/doctor type weirdo would be cool… yea, I can definitely pull that off. I went to my girls work and lifted a pair of embalming gloves and used my backyard barbecuing apron. Set ProCamera on a timer and vogued for a few minutes. I edited the whole thing in Photo Wizard after. I’m a big fan of old mad scientist characters in movies and shows like The Twilight Zone from the 60′s. This is directly influenced from those and a character I would watch on public access tv in New Orleans growing up, his name was Morgus The Magnificent. Professor Morgus used to have a show where he would play old B rated science fiction and horror movies and during breaks he would do experiments and stuff like measure the speed of dark, anyway, this just comes from being a weird kid growing up I guess is what I’m sayin’.
Ade Santora, Jakarta, Indonesia
Ginger Lucero, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pronunciation: \di-ˈje-nə-ˌrāt, dē-\
1 : to pass from a higher to a lower type or condition : deteriorate 2 : to sink into a low intellectual or moral state 3 : to decline in quality <the poetry gradually degenerates into jingles> 4 : to decline from a condition or from the standards of a species, race, or breed 5 : to evolve or develop into a less autonomous or less functionally active form <degenerated into dependent parasites>
: to cause to degenerate
We all get stuck in a rut from time to time. We get that feeling of uselessness, a feeling that makes the thought of change unbearable. We are, after all, creatures of habit. We become bored of routine, but don’t know a way out. We have the want, but the will isn’t there. We start to feel like it will be this way for what seems eternity. We then start to look down upon ourselves and think so low, that it’s almost impossible to be picked back up again. We start to rot from the inside out. Even words of encouragement become words of fear. We start to seek validation for our actions, as if someone else’s promises and words make us better.
But who are we kidding, it’s no ones job to change us. It is our place to take those first steps, to walk forward and not look back. No one can change who we are, it’s not their job to. All the words in the world can’t take away our feelings, our loss of desire. We must make those changes ourselves.
Joel A. , Louisiana
The product of an extreme headache. The words are from the song “Satellite” by Pigface. Seem to fit the vibe at the time.
As demonstrated by the excellent pieces shown, selfies can be one of the most creative and boldest ways to emotionally and honestly connect. Critics may continue to label selfies as narcissistic or cries for attention, but with the increased use of inventions such as Google glass, selfies may be our last defense in creating the online image we desire. The years of being able to hide online seem to be fading fast; it’s good to know mobile photographers seize the opportunity to reveal the self they want others to know while they still can.