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The Selfie Diaries – documenting ourselves

For the past 3 months I’ve undertaken a project to explore the medium of selfies.

Through Facebook I’ve sourced over 40 selfies.

Each selfie is accompanied by two quotes from the subject of the selfie, responses to the following questions;

  1. What does your selfie say about you?
  2. What does your selfie fail to say about you?

These selfies were then curated publicly on Instagram, and tagged appropriately.

The only specifications given regarding the selfie was that it had to be a photo of you, taken by you.

This led to some interesting interpretations.

The majority of selfies sourced were taken by women. This reflects similar, global-scale studies on the selfie.

Most selfies submitted showed the selfie-taker at their most photogenic. There were a few notable examples though which seem to be trying to appeal through humour.

Taking a selfie with an animal was not uncommon, a trend which appears to be global. Several ‘animal selfie’ trends have circulated online in recent months such as quokka selfies.

Taking selfies with animals, domesticated or exotic, ties in with how people also appeared to like taking selfies when they were doing something out of the ordinary.

In regards to the question What does your selfie say about you?, responses were fairly descriptive of the content of the selfie. Respondents described their image, sometimes with explanation as to why they look that way.

More interesting however were the responses to the question What does your selfie fail to say about you? Often this revealed that the person in the selfie was not as confident or content in their life as the image may make them appear.

People, especially young people, genuinely enjoy taking selfies. The medium is used as a way to document their life, from the places they visit, to the people they meet and the experiences they have.

Most of the time people want a selfie that shows them at their best, though for some this may mean taking a humorous shot. Selfies capture a moment in a person’s life that can be read as documenting them as they were at a particular place and time.

But it is important to remember what selfies cannot document. Selfies–documenting us at our best–fail to communicate the inevitable troubles faced by everyone.Therefore selfies can be seen as a tool of photojournalism by the self, a way of creating and controlling your image in an increasingly online world

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Art, Online

Art, Online

‘Hand-made’ and ‘digital’ are words that you would not expect to see next to each other often. Contemporary society is only to become increasingly digitised however, forcing artists and craftspeople, traditionally associated with the concept of ‘hand-made’, into the online world.

Creatively-inclined types have quickly adapted to digitisation, utilising several online platforms to inspire, create and publish their work.

Instagram

Possibly the best known, Instagram has constructed itself as the social network for all things visual. For artists it is a useful tool for not only displaying their portfolio, but for showing their artistic process. The platform is a quick and easy way  for a wide audience to grasp the basics of an artist’s practice and to gain an insight into the artist themselves. Many artists are often able to convert Instagram views into sales using websites like eBay and Etsy.

Screenshot of one of artist Ben Sanders Instagram posts. Sanders uses Instagram to generate sales.
Screenshot of one of artist Ben Sanders Instagram posts. Sanders uses Instagram to generate sales.

Instagram is not without fault however. Accurate representation of an artwork is not often possible due to the platform’s image-restrictions, and the ease with which followers can be bought (the number of followers an artist has directly impacts on the value attributed to their work) proves that Instagram is still not in any way comparable to a conventional gallery space.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a content-aggregation website. Users ‘pin’ visual content (photos, videos etc.) from across the web to their ‘pinboards’ – collections of similar content. Content can also be uploaded to Pinterest by users, and this is how many artisans use the platform to showcase their work. Commonly Pinterest is used as a creative resource, a means by which people can discover how to make this, design that, and gather inspiration for projects. Using Pinterest craftspeople are able to share their work globally, as well as learn new techniques and gather inspiration.

Example of a Pinterest page showing various D.I.Y. crafts

Etsy

If eBay is the father of online marketplaces, Etsy is the sweet younger sister. Etsy is, like eBay, an online marketplace where users can both buy and sell products. What differentiates Etsy however is its focus on hand-made or unique products. You can of course still buy handmade crafts and art on websites like eBay, but Etsy prides itself on curating only this type of product.

For this reason, artists and craftspeople widely use the website to sell their work. Unlike traditional markets used to sell arts and crafts, Etsy is global and open 24hrs – making the likelihood of an artist’s work being sold significantly greater. The website also allows artists to develop a brand and advertise themselves freely.