I'm fascinated by this concept. The #selfie has surfaced as the decisive social expression of self love, loathing and worth. Taken from above, from below, in the club, in a group or solo with only the mirror as audience to our preening, we beg to be seen. We hashtag for praise, likes, and attention.
Are we narcissists at our core or are we seeking connection on a social global scale in this cold digital age?
Is the #selfie worthy of a discussion of the emergence of me, myself and I culture dependent on instant gratification?
All intriguing questions. That outcome is for you to answer and not for me to decide in this post. Here and forward, I write to examine how the process of #selfie has impacted an emerging project of mine and my own sense of self.
But first, let me take a #selfie
As I started compiling a database of #selfies for a separate project, I was struck by the sheer volume of images I had collected. I shot the photos with my mobile phone or point and shoot camera as an experiment to get back into photography. I took multiple shots perfecting the #selfie pose...a 3/4 turn here, a chin up there, from above, from behind...each #selfie session became an exercise in creativity and examination.
Soon, I easily spent hours crafting the perfect selfie photo. One where the composition is just so - highlighting my features pleasingly and disguising the perceived flaws. The burgeoning collection contains hundreds of images of myself...looking at the camera coyly; expressions of goofiness and fun; lips blowing goodnight kisses; sleepy morning poses; displays of eroticism; sexual playfulness; closeups of breasts, hips and legs; striking a pose in the fitting room; clothed and undone...a thorough examination of all the aspects of myself.
Can you guys help me pick a filter? I want to look tan.
The #selfie experiment inspired the next iteration of the project. I was interested in the contrast of high versus low art. A #selfie by average definition would not be considered "art" but instead a disposable image. If I took that image and elevated it using artistic means - charcoal, pastel, canvas - would the viewer look at the composition differently? Would the sexually provocative pose become sensual in artistic form? Would I feel more empowered to critique myself through this artistic means? Would I find a new appreciation through form and for the body image being my own? After some thoughtful image selection and careful cropping, I started work on the series of artful #selfie studies.
Wait...pause...Jason just liked my #selfie
When you look back through your profile, how many #selfies do you count? Do you secretly check your phone for notifications? Do you do the happy dance when the number of likes exceed the double digits? Does the social love fill the void?
Given permission to cultivate #selfies in the name of art, I've discovered and continue to uncover more about how I see myself. I've learned how light and shadow can smooth curves or highlight imperfections. I've found angles that slim and sides which droop. I've experimented with over exaggeration to convey love, sex, despair and anger. The #selfies are composed presentations of pleasing (or purposely displeasing) selves.
Through this exploratory series, I've realized I understand little of how I perceive my true body image. I enjoy the process of capturing my own image, but hold a silent breath once I'm revealed in each digital still. As the #selfie series continues, I aim to explore the perceptions of art and eroticism, to connect positive body image and sensuality, and to push forward the expression of self.