The Selfie and Art

The Selfie Generation and The Misunderstanding of Art
While away on holidays the thought of the ubiquitious selfie struck me as an indicative misunderstanding of the way art functions in society.  Without giving it too much thought I put the random thoughts to twitter.Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.37.14 pm

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There has been commentary on the narcissism of the selfie, and the selfie generation. Self portraits are nothing new in terms of the history of art but the selfie has predominated in a digital age and the shift in societal thinking. It is nothing more than self-aggrandisement.
The selfie misses the vital point of art and its function in society as a whole and the community on a smaller level, leading to this statement:
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Ultimately I don’t care about the photos of yourself, or of your food, or your beverage, or any other piece of ennui you care to photograph and post on social media. What I do care about is the image you have carefully and thoughtfully constructed in order to tell a story.
It can be a photograph, a drawing, a doodle, a sketch, done with crayons, pencils, textas, salt and pepper, the spilt milk on the table and played with to create a pattern. 
The fact is, the art is deliberate and has a purpose. The fact a company can sell a book of Kim Kardashian selfies says a lot about the disposable artistic culture we live in. We have monetised narcissism which diminishes the value of art as a whole and what people are willing to pay to contribute to a vibrant arts culture. The same thing can be said for reality tv celebrities and their ‘biography.’ It cheapens the literary culture and pushes publishing to look for the next quick cash cow they can milk then slaughter. 
If we want art to have longevity it must have purpose, definition and an audience. A selfie has none of them.
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There is a place for art for the individual and the self. But it is not art to be shared publicly. It can be shared with a few select people but not for the whole community. I don’t show the scraps of sentences found littered in my notebook or my practice pieces to the readers of my blog (unless I am using it to illustrate a point). This is the art for myself. Only when the piece is completed, edited, refined will I show it to my audience. I know what is done for myself and what is done for my audience. 
By all means, take selfies and share them with your audience. Just don’t cal it art.
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 Feel free to disagree with me in the comments; I would like your feedback on this.

What’s your opinion on the selfie as ‘art’? 

9 responses to “The Selfie and Art

  1. There was a time when all that you’ve just said about selfies was being said about graffiti. Graffiti is now recognised as a real expression of art by most people. I think?
    Could it be that selfies are the first baby steps of a whole new art form?

    • Certainly true about graffiti, now a recognised art form (although I don’t recognise tagging as art). There are those who use the selfie image in very imaginative and creative ways. Perhaps it will be a new art form. Right now, it’s a blight upon humanity 🙂

  2. Selfies have never been art!! They have just been photographs. I mean ya there has been a hype all over of selfies. Ppl rather go to places for selfies and posting them on social media, which is wrong. But I feel sharing art is never wrong.

    Wwe as bloggers here are sharing art, sharing our words and thoughts. Sharing helps expland. You may or may not share selfies but u can totally share art I feel!! 😀

    • Selfies COULD be art, under the right circumstances.
      And you’re right, sharing art is never wrong, as long as you know what you’re IS art.

  3. I believe selfies can be art. I’d prefer a well-posed selfie than sitting for a portrait photograph (confession that all my author shots are selfies of one description or another). I hate my photo being taken and the selfie gives me control of what’s put in the frame.

    What if we expanded the definition of art – to incorporate the art of the every day? I love Kylie Chan (I think it was) celebrating the selfie, saying for the first time in history it gave mothers a chance to be remembered in photographs. That mothers have been, for the most part, invisible in family histories, often the one with the camera capturing their families grow. The selfie allows them to be visible for the first time.

    And perhaps there is art in that? Art in a memory captured, even if it’s only in the eye of the beholder.

    • I love the idea of the art of the every day. There is wonderful empowerment to be gained via the selfie, but for me it all comes down to purpose. Without purpose, it’s narcissism. With purpose, it’s art. Most selfies are unimaginative collections of people. It’s when you are aware of the surroundings, the environment and your place within it, interacting with it, that it becomes art.
      I have read about women taking ‘brelfies,’ breast-feeding selfies, in response to Instagram stupidity. There is art as empowerment and of the every day.
      It is all about the control of the frame; conscious choices as to what is included and excluded, that forms the art.

  4. It seems to me, Adampb, that you are saying selfies are only art if they fit with what you regard as art? You could use that logic to excluded anything from art.
    Wouldn’t be better to consider whether the selfie taker sees what they are doing as art? If they don’t them the selfies are just photo albums shared with the world which no one has to look at if they don’t want to. Hardly a blight on humanity.
    If the selfie taker sees it as art and you don’t, who is right?

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