LOS ANGELES — The biggest selfie news of the past week comes from drones, which have spawned a new selfie category: the dronie. To shoot them, people program their drones to take short videos of themselves that operate like extended selfies. Most dronies begin with a portrait-like shot of the person or people, then zoom up and away while guided by remote control.
Also last week, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden jumped into a selfie together — one that, due to the long-arm angle, makes both of their teeth look very large. This image comes from Biden’s new Instagram account, which only contains seven photographs so far, with this one boasting the most likes, at about 55K. As I’ve said before, the selfie is where we become our own biggest fans and private paparazzi — and Obama and Biden are no exception to this rule. The phenomenon isn’t specific to American politicians, however; Indian politician Narendra Modi, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), recently took a selfie, and so did President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who shot his with a Samsung Galaxy. Was his selfie corporate-sponsored, too?
In the world of celebrity selfies, German photographer Jonas Unger debuted his new exhibition Autoportraits in Paris, in which celebs and fashionistas like Karl Lagerfeld, Karolina Kurkova, Jean-Paul Gauthier, and David Lynch use an analogue camera to take pictures of themselves. By certain standards these are not selfies, because they aren’t shot with a smartphone camera or uploaded to a social media site. But they are self-portraits shot in what is now known as the selfie aesthetic — that long-arm position, gazing at the camera, a private moment made public. Except the gazes in these photographs are different — in the real selfie, we see an off-kilter look that often signifies the shooter seeing themselves in a smartphone mirror as they’re taking the photograph. The real selfie gaze is captured in the work of artist Peregrine Honig, whose painting/Instaperformance “#discosaintselfie” (2014), a part of the exhibition The Stench of Rotting Flowers at Charlotte Street Foundation’s La Esquina Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, gave people an elaborate backdrop for shooting their own selfies — a chance to be in the disco-ball spotlight both in the moment and forever.
A new hashtag on Instagram, called #aftersexselfies, puts people in a very different type of selfie spotlight. Here people decide to share that thrilling just-had-sex (and hopefully just had great orgasms!) moment to social media for all to see. Is it shameful? No! This type of sharing is a personal choice.
In monetizing selfie news, a man named Jared Frank was taking a selfie too close to a train in Peru when the conductor kicked him in the head. Now, with some 27 million views and counting on the video of the incident, Frank signed with California-based Jukin Media to monetize the video after they told him he could earn “in the range of $2 to $16 per 1,000 views and he would get 70 per cent share,” according to CBC News Saskatchewan. At least this young man’s selfie is bringing in some capital.
Another selfie makes its way into a headline today, and the same will be true tomorrow. Now Jim Romanesko reports that Civitas Media, which owns 35 newspapers across the country, will be running a selfie package in each one. The insert will feature a skeleton story of the week with space for filling in localized news, submissions from readers, a brief history of the selfie, and more about how to take a selfie. Naturally, one journalist proclaimed that selfies have no place on his front page and called the whole thing “belittling” to his readers. But it doesn’t matter what he says — all the pretty selfies are here to stay.
Here are five takes on the selfie from artists and writers in Illinois, California, New York, and Poland.
Stacy Jill Calvert
Location: Carbondale, Illinois
“This was taken in January, when my wife and I took a trip via train to New Orleans. We stayed in a B&B that felt like we were characters inside a fairy tale. This mirror was outside our bedroom and reminded me slightly of the mirror from Snow White. Of course I don’t see myself as a wicked witch. :)”
Location: La Jolla, California
“My Facebook profile pic is the epitome of selfie in every way. It contains personal favorite things: pet alligator, car, skateboard, treasured painting from private art collection. Wearing fave pair of shoes and swimming shorts. Taken while listening to fave music. Also contains 3D conceptual self-portrait painting representing the journey of my life. Shot in the most personal space of an artist (the studio), a place for contemplation, music, thinking, skating, creating art.”
Location: Warsaw, Poland
“This morning when I found a huge magnifying glass in my grandparents’ bathroom, I just couldn’t help snapping it. I love how surreal the selfie is: one eye, pajamas, and a yellow square. It was enough to leave it unfiltered.”
Occupation: Visual artist
Location: BushRidge (aka Ridgewood at the edge of Bushwick)
“Taking a photo of yourself seems bold, narcissistic, self-involved, so they say (?). I think it’s more like having a bit of fun — why not?! This project, SubwaySelfie (2013), started because I hate being photographed, but I like the idea of performative art and saw elements of the subway posters I could interact with by capturing me in a silly moment. A moment that folks (public in realtime and friends via FB postings) would not expect of me — but what they have not realized is that in my secret-reserved-self there lies a cheeky funny-girl. This project was only posted to FB and received a bizarre number of ‘likes,’ more than my artwork tended to get. Ahhhh whattodo! So I kept doing them … setting up rules to help keep it from getting out of control and a project I could enjoy.”
“This is my ‘infinite self’ bathroom selfie. I don’t understand why the phone, bathroom, and mirror often come together in most of the glamorous selfies out there, so I gave it a try on my own terms by being decidedly unglamorous and flipping my phone around, screen face out. I was pleased with the results and, BAM, it became an Instagram. Also, I was delighted to find an antiquated form of the bathroom selfie lurking behind me — one of my old paintings of a bathroom.”
* * *
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.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.