Articles

Selfie Reflections

by Alicia Eler on January 20, 2014

An irresistibly sexy person's Tumblr drawing interpretation of the selfie.

An rresistibly sexy person’sinterpretation of the selfie. (via ianirresistiblysexyperson.tumblr.com )

CHICAGO — There are selfies for every occasion, outfit, haircut, new pair of glasses, and reflective work of art, and then there are accidental selfies in Craigslist mirrors. Are these windows onto the soul or just portals-for-sale that happen to end up on a smartly curated single-concept Tumblr blog?

Adrian, the digital dude at London’s Horniman Museum, created the selfies with the Walrus Pinterest board, which inspired Culture Themes blog to make January 22 #MuseumSelfie day. This is a selfie day for those who work at museums, adore museum mascots or just like to visit museums. If you participate in this day, make clear how your #museumselfie is different from a typical #artselfie.

The most exhilarating selfie we saw this week? That prize definitely goes to the self-titled “most amazing selfie of 2014,” which was shot by a man who survived a plane crash off the coast of Hawaii. Another term for this could be “the survival selfie.”

This week’s selfies offer moments of self-reflection for all who are interested in seeing themselves in a new light.

Robb Stone

Robb Stone, "Malibu Nobody Selfie," (2014)

Robb Stone, “Malibu Nobody Selfie” (2014)

Occupation: Artist
Location: Chicago

I made “Malibu Nobody Selfie” about an aspect of selfies that intrigues me: On apps like Grindr they function as avatars, a kind of mask. There’s a flattening out of personality in favor of basic (very generic) “types.” Ideas of masculinity and desirability have become, through the bottleneck of the media, quite literally a two dimensional thumbnail. Where traditional self-portraits once attempted to convey individual characteristics, social app “profile pics” today commonly eschew individuation in favor of open-ended, generalized gestalt images not dissimilar to that classic 20th century sexist term for women of a certain look and build: Barbie Doll.

A Malibu Nobody is trying to look like someone, but looks like no one in particular. Thus he is a screen onto which another man’s ‘gaze’ can easily project his desires and fantasies. He’s asking to be objectified — and he wants to objectify you, too.

Molly Einhorn

Molly Einhorn, "Selfie" (2014)

Molly Einhorn, “Failed Art Project Selfie” (2014)

Occupation: Tour guide at Eastern State Penitentiary historic site
Location: Philadelphia

I finished a year of an MFA program and decided not to stay. I’ve been struggling to find my voice as an artist outside of an institution. My first instinct was to keep making really big installations, which turned out to be pretty stop-and-go for me (how to transport them, failed collaboration, yadda yadda).

After I finish a piece I usually get this sense of dread, about wasting materials, what I am going to do with the piece. Usually it gets destroyed and recycled back into future pieces, but in the interim, they live in the basement. Sometimes they live there for years.

The last two installations I worked on did not have an audience, and when I was ready to store them, that old familiar dread started bubbling up. I reacted by taking a short series of selfies with these projects, maybe just to prove they existed, even though they did not end up the way I envisioned and their ultimate destination was the basement.

Felix Culpa

Felix Culpa, "@MrDavidHockney Selfie" (2014)

Felix Culpa, “@MrDavidHockney Selfie” (2014)

Occupation: Artist
Location: Internet

It’s acrylic on canvas, 36 x 84 x 1.5 inches.  Much like any other painting. It’s a website painting, or a painted approximation of a website.

The images were tweeted in real time @MrDavidHockney (referencing the gestalt nature of the composition proper) #selfie which, in a way, paints the picture before it is painted — online that is. Check out @paFELIXcul’s Tweet.

The purpose of this (rather roundabout) process is to explore the ways in which artists represent themselves via social media or the internet versus the formal work which is produced. In this way, the website paintings are inversions of the traditional ways in which paintings or websites generate meaning. Website: felix-culpa.com

Ann Tracy

Ann Tracy, "Selfie in Chaos" (2014)

Ann Tracy, “Selfie in Chaos” (2014)

Occupation: Artist, photographer, writer
Location: Portland, Maine

Shot this selfie in the studio when I was suddenly overcome with anxiety about finishing all the work I have to do in here before packing it up and moving out of my attic (literally) into an artists complex called Running with Scissors in Portland Maine.  I wanted to document that moment of panic, so I could look at it later and laugh.

I’ve only got a few more days until the movers come and I still have two pieces of art to deliver for two different shows … It’s really the opposite of most self-portraits I’ve done as I’m not capturing a “vain” moment when I look good, but a moment when I was feeling a bit out of control.

Mikhail Yusufov

TK from ArtGameJamesFranco.Tumblr.com

Mikhail Yusiuov, “Selfie” from ArtGameJamesFranco.Tumblr.com

Occupation: Student at Bard College
Location: Brooklyn, New York

I recently just published this blog (with more pics on the way), it’s full with about three months of photographs. I started taking selfies because of a girl. We met and dated for the summer but after a series of unfortunate events she moved across the country. We began to write to each other and I noticed that I was sending her a lot of selfies. When I got a new camera my work flow exploded, I was photographing constantly. On a certain level I made the whole blog for her, to let her know what I was up to while she was gone. On a deeper level it’s an exploration of vanity. That our own cellphone camera can make us feel like a celebrity no matter what states we’re in or where we are. It’s also a parody of the form, pointing to its own ridiculousness and absurdity. I made these photos to make viewers laugh. I hope you enjoy them.

*   *   *

Email Hyperallergic your selfie at selfies [at] hyperallergic.com, along with a brief explanation of why you shot it and what it means to you.

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.

Previous post:

Next post: