[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 132, Issue 3

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 09:01:58 AEDT 2015

Jonathan, ah convenience, the great seducer!


On Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 4:14 PM, Jonathan Schroeder <jesgla at rit.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks for this thoughtful post.  I recall when got a new iPhone it
> 'automatically' created a seflie folder in my photos. At first, I found
> this  profoundly disturbing, as it seemed to bring up so many negative
> aspects of digital technology, including facial recognition software,
> social media algorithms, and surveillance. But on one level, I now have a
> rather convenient record of  my selfies - after all, I took them, and to a
> certain extent, I can delete at will, or remove the selfie folder. It is
> this aspect of the practice of selfies that Mehita Iqani are trying to
> write about. One aspect of the current interest in selfies is that as the
> term (if not the practice) is fairly recent, it feels like current research
> and writing  on selfies has the potential to theorize this social and
> cultural phenomenon as it is unfolding.
> ________________________________________
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <
> empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Derek Murray <
> derekconradmurray6719 at gmail.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 12:18 PM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 132, Issue 3
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Greetings everyone! I’m going to jump in on this:
> The analog issue that has been mentioned is very interesting. I
> discussed it briefly in my writings on selfies. When I first became
> interested in the subject, it was through many of my students who were
> photography majors. The majority worked exclusively with film, and
> were strict adherents to the medium. When I queried them about this
> choice, I received a variety of responses, most of which expressed a
> preference for the formal qualities of film: grainy aesthetic,
> saturated colors, visual richness, etc. Others discussed the
> importance of process: the mechanical “slowing down” of the act, the
> inability to see the results immediately (which they romanticized).
> Many described film as having a preciousness and tactile quality in
> the medium that simply wasn’t present with digital. Others were more
> direct, and expressed quite frankly that their interest in the medium
> was driven by their photographic heroes such as: Nan Goldin, Anders
> Petersen, Larry Clark, Nobuyoshi Araki, and Dash Snow (who became
> famous for his gritty Polaroids).
> The aesthetics of these now-notorious photographers has become the
> standard for lifestyle photography and is quite popular in fashion as
> well for their romanticizing of drug use, adolescent sexuality, and
> the subcultural dimensions of urban street culture. It dominates
> hipster circles, because it conveys a kind of counter-culture
> rebellion, and a rejection of techo-capitalist value systems. In
> regard to selfies specifically, film offers the ability to capture a
> feeling of nostalgic intimacy, which for many provides a form of
> resistance from the more fast-paced, consumer-driven demands heaped
> upon them. But I would argue that the most salient dimension of this
> choice is the desire to replicate the gritty, saturated realism and
> intimacy of Araki, Goldin and Clark—who imaged the “outsider” with
> grace, but also captured the sexual radicalism of their time: all of
> which have been extremely influential on young women (and other
> marginalized groups) who are endeavoring to express their resistance
> through self-imaging. I am nevertheless skeptical of this trend;
> especially the fetishizing of retro aesthetics, and the apparent
> sentimentality and nostalgia that is voraciously performed. However, I
> do find it both fascinating and inspiring that young people are
> thinking visually, and that the relation between representation,
> aesthetics, identity, subjectivity, and political activism, are at the
> forefront of their self-imaging strategies.
> In discussions about selfies, I think it’s important not to forget
> that people take them, and that we should also not forget that many of
> them are profoundly alienated, or subjected daily to misogyny, racism,
> homophobia, transphobia—or simply harmed psychically by
> misrepresentation, erasure, and invisibility. Perhaps the persistence
> of these social/cultural/ideological degradations is the real terror.
> As a disturbing techo-capitalist phenomenon, the selfie—as troubling
> as it may be—is perhaps one of the only expressive means for the
> consumer to validate themselves and to say to the world: “I exist, and
> I have value!” This may sound like sentiment, but I think if we move
> beyond judgment and really “look” at selfies (rather than discuss them
> merely as a social and/or intellectual issue) we can see the very
> human dimension that subtends this gesture.
> _______________________________________________
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> _______________________________________________
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