The notion of self-expression is beyond experimentation, it is ingrained somehow. The connection to personalization has long surpassed as novelty, it has changed us all somehow to see everything through the selfie lens, first. How does a company like Instagram enhance this primal fascination with our own visage?
Robert Cornelius took the world’s first photographic selfie in the streets of Philli in 1839, but he had no idea of the phenomenon that would follow more than a century and a half later.
Throughout history, people have shown a fascination with their image. From cavemen creating self expressions with oils to the first self-portrait by a Dutch master, to Rembrandt a prolific self-portrait artist and Van Gogh whose collection of work contained thirty self-portraits. These were the early seeds of what would be the selfie-centered generation today.
Technology has accelerated how self-portraits are made today. With Instagram available at your finger tips, and the ability to create a unique portrayal of your self image at any given moment, technology replaced any need for raw materials like paint, oil or metals to depict the image you want to create of you, unlike the art masters of our past that spent months or years crafting selfies with paint pigmentations or other raw materials.
Today the art of the selfie is being broadcasted globally, from bathroom selfies and glam selfies to President Obama seen taking a selfie at the Mandela memorial last year. Ellen Degeneres’ most retweeted selfie of all time happened at the Oscars last week, and a Dutch fighter pilot’s selfie as he launched a missile from his aircraft two days ago is considered the “Best Selfie Ever“.
My old-time NYC friend Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers recently co-produced the #Selfie song, which lends itself to this commentary quite nicely. It’s a music video of a top song right now, with over five million hits on YouTube in less than two months after going live. This song couldn’t have had better timing, as the “Selfie” truly has it’s moment now more than ever before.
Perhaps we are now creating the next big universal art form, and one that lets us control every aspect of creation, while having everything we need at our fingertips.