“Selfies are tools of communication more than marks of vanity … Mini-Mes that we send out to give others a sense of who we are.” James Franco
Selfies are seriously on the rise in modern society and we’ve all taken one in our time (yes even you, don’t lie) and our generation, particularly Generation Y has fast become defined by the selfie as a means of self-portrait by media users. I for one am not unaccustomed to the occasional selfie and often reflect on how my followers on Instagram or Facebook friends view me as a person, based on my selfies that I post. This topic I feel, is very necessary to discuss in this current media landscape and one that Jerry Saltz has looked at with great discourse. Before reading his article on vulture.com I did a quick Google search and Twitter stalk to find out that that Jerry is a Senior Art Critic at the New York Art Magazine and has published several articles on vulture.com regarding media issues and art. This contextual influence can be seen throughout the article as Saltz makes several references to both modern and past artists and photos/paintings, which are used as examples of selfies in his article.
Saltz goes so far as to suggest that we are becoming defined as the selfie generation, of which is comprised of self-obsessed narcissists and selfie-lovers. Saltz stresses the fact that selfies are always taken with a purpose and are never accidental: “Selfies are usually casual, improvised, fast; their primary purpose is to be seen here, now, by other people, most of them unknown is social networks.”(Saltz, 2014) This is certainly the case with the users that I follow on Instagram; the selfies will always be staged and with a purpose to provoke a positive response from their followers in order to gain popularity and an abundance of likes. The captions will usually suggest that they don’t like the way they look in these selfies but have clearly been taken and posted on purpose for that specific intention. Saltz says that: “What I love about selfies is that we then do a second thing after making them: we make them public. Which is again, something like art.”
“Selfies are our letters to the world. They are like visual diaries that magnify, reduce, dramatize- they say, “I’m here; look at me.” This statement sums up the whole concept of selfies as a genre for me, and the basis of Saltz’s article as he describes the history of selfies in great detail. Saltz also makes reference to art critic Geoffrey Batchen, saying that selfies represent “the shift of the photograph [from] memorial function to a communication device.” This statement is very much representative of our generation of selfie-enthusiasts yet can be traced back in time to even the famous self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh
With the release Kim Kardashion’s book of selfies titled “Selfish” I think it’s fair to say that selfies are here, and definitely here to stay and I’m actually interested to see how they evolve over the coming years with constant advancements in technology and social media.