Learning about selfies as art for this module has been extremely fascinating. The work of Cindy Sherman is so imaginative. I really appreciate her ‘Centerfolds’ series, and how it comments on depictions of women. Amalia Ulman’s Instagram work is pioneering. I was astonished by the way Ulman predicted a lot of Instagram trends, and was able to reflect the ways in which we are continually changing our identity for Instagram. However, my favorite selfies I have seen as a part of this module are the historical ones referenced in Chapter 1 of Jill Walker Rettberg’s Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs, and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. The historic self-portraits taken by photographers Kate Matthews, Margaret Bourke-White, Germaine Krull and Ilse Bing are profound in the context of the ubiquitousness of mirror selfies today.
I love these “selfies” because they reflect an important truth. The desire to portray the self in an artistic manner is an inherent pull within a lot of people, and technology has merely democratized the art of photography. While not everyone has something profound to say, everyone with a smartphone who is interested in self-portraiture now has the ability to experiment with the craft. Maybe at first glance, selfies are narcissistic, but really any form of art can be. Instead of writing off an entire medium, we should keep an open mind. So much of art is ahead of its time and only admired or understood in retrospect. Van Gogh only sold one painting, The Red Vineyard, while he was alive. It all makes me wonder- how will we reflect on selfies in 100 years?