The Selfie: More and Less than a Self-Portrait, an invited talk at the New School

I am presenting an invited talk "The Selfie: More and Less than a Self-Portrait” at the conference What Now? 2016: On Future Identities organized by Art in General, in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. The conference takes place at the New School University Center, 63 5th Avenue at 13th St, New York City, May 20 - 21, 2016.

My talk will be part of the panel Technology and Presentations of the Self, Saturday, May 21, 2pm-3.30pm. Read more about the conference and see full schedule of panels, performances, and lectures.

In “The Selfie: More and Less than a Self-Portrait” I will interpret the selfie as a new sub-genre of photography, inseparable from the devices of its viewing and the social media where it is circulated. As one way of approaching the selfie, I will discuss the combination of computational methods and traditional image analysis that was employed in studying thousands of Instagram selfies in projects such as Selfiecity (2014) and Selfiecity London (2015). I will also discuss some outcomes of investigating all images published on Instagram during the Kyiv Revolution in project The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kyiv (2014).

The talk will further elaborate on the ideas that I have put forth in my recent article, "The Networked Camera at Work: Why Every Self-portrait Is Not a Selfie, but Every Selfie is a Photograph" (2016). I will argue that the selfie is neither a low-brow offspring of the noble tradition of self-portrait in art, nor a democratic and popular version of self-portraiture in general. Instead, I will emphasize the specific conditions of making and viewing selfies as part of a live stream of updates on platforms such as Instagram. In this understanding, the distinction is not made between "high" and "low" culture, but rather between different modes and circumstances of viewing. In addition, I will turn to Vilém Flusser’s idea of the photograph as a “technical image” and a “computation of concept” and explore how it can help us understand the selfie and, in a broader sense, image-making and image-sharing on social media.

After the conference, a full transcript of my talk as well as the visual presentation will be made available on this website.