However, my interest in selfies rests within their aesthetic value, and the degree to which they may be called art. In fact I would argue that selfies represent an artistic revolution. What other art form or medium has attained the same level of social saturation?
Many might argue that selfies are not art, but I will happily argue, very many of them are. Art is after all but a social construct. The artist Marcel Duchamp took everyday objects back in the early 1900’s and exhibited them, forcing us to question the difference between art and life. We ourselves dictate what is art and what is not. It is the artist’s act of choice and the value placed on such creation, which transforms objects into art. Skill and mastery are important but are not always requisite for a creation to become art. However, there is a hierarchy of aesthetic that is dominant. A set of rules that if applicable make some creations more ascendant than others. This aesthetic is culturally bound.
We now live in a culture of instantaneous everything. Everything is getting faster and more accessible. In the past self-portraits were labour intensive and may have been limited to those with artistic skill or those owning specialist photographic equipment. Now most people have an entire art and photographic studio in the software contained on their phone. It is the combination of the availability of equipment and software on people’s phones, in addition to the phenomena of online identities that has produced selfie-mania!
But back to my argument – selfies are art, maybe not all of them but a very many. The difference for me between the two types of selfies lies amongst those that have involved the act of choice and those that have not. Those that have not involved the act of choice are communicative and often spontaneous; they present a message about a particular time and place, they are simply photographic. However, it is the selfies that have involved the act of choice, that I argue are art. It is the selfie that has been posed and considered. The one made with intention to look a certain way and communicate a specific meaning. It is the one that has been made with the intention to display. It may have involved the use of props or the application of photographic filters.
Either way selfies represent new and interesting artistic and social phenomena, worthy of more discussion and greater enquiry. The contemporary popularity of selfies is unquestionable. A recent song by The Chainsmokers, entitled “SELFIE” which is displayed on Youtube, had at the time I watched it an incredible 142,806,057 views.
So if you haven’t yet, I think may be it's time … come on and take a selfie!
© Clay Darcy, June 2014