Are you in your selfie?
After this week’s discussion on selfies, that’s been the question I’ve been mulling over in my mind. And, to be honest, I’ve no answers–just more to wonder about.
Reflections on Reflections
I’ve already said much about selfies myself but I was interested to hear what my peers had to say about the emerging genre of digital art & creation. More, I was interested in what people thought of the idea of selfies being a form of communication.
To many, that seemed readily apparent.
Selfies contain messages. They are messages.
A2: I definitely agree with this. I don’t think people really take pictures as much for memory, as they do to send a message. #netnarr
— Eni (@eniasebiomo) February 13, 2018
A2 My selfies send the message that I am trying to send. I would agree communication is key! #netnarr
— Steph Jones (@MrsJayJ) February 13, 2018
At least, they can be.
Something I didn’t necessarily connect but that others did is how this added element of communication seems to necessitate that selfies always be a social act.
— hailey (@stryii) February 13, 2018
Can selfies be keepsakes? Or, must they always be public in order to have a dialogue? Does the selfie’s communication matter as much when it’s only communicating with you? In my opinion, that kind of communication is the most important and speaks to that level of self-reflection Jerry Saltz seemed to be getting at in his article on the art history of the selfie.
Still, what was perhaps of even more interest than all of this was some comments made earlier on about the “illusion” of life selfies seem to reference or comment on:
Big question. Don’t we somewhat always put on some kind of face in public, not always what we are feeling? #netnarr
— Alan Levine (@cogdog) February 13, 2018
#netnarr A2 (contd) The proliferation of selfies could also be a sign that we have become so bored or disillusioned with the world that we feel the need to insert our own image into things as an attempt to assert that the world still means something, and we still have a say in it
— Katherine Marzinsky (@KMarzinsky) February 13, 2018
When viewed in this light, selfies become ways to alter the perception of the self but also the perception of the world. More, they becomes a means to take back some control and also assert control. This, to me, speaks to the empowering nature of the selfie (something I discuss more in-depth in my prior post). Selfies and the acts of taking them are not just some new digital extensions of vanity. Dismissing them as such not only mis-characterizes them but ignores so much potential, so much information about what it is and means to be human.
Selfies are becoming the language of us. I mean, we’re using ourselves to convey the experience of life. Our experiences are in dialogue with each other with the advent of the selfies in ways they never were before.
That matters. That shouldn’t be dismissed.
Do You Look at Me Different Now? #SelfieUnselfie
The other idea I’ve been totally captured by this week is that of the unselfie. Perhaps the concept has been peddled before but, in light of my own findings on the subject of the selfie as of late, it’s such an arresting idea. It makes me pause, stop and think about not just how I present myself to the world but how I don’t.
Again, as I mentioned in my previous post on selfies, I believe selfies are not only a burgeoning language but a very vulnerable one. I mean, we’re putting our faces out there for people to interact with, yes, but also for them (our messages, too) to be critiqued. It’s an incredibly vulnerable thing to do, an aspect of the selfie I don’t believe is always appreciated.
Anyway, that said, are selfies really all that vulnerable when they are rather staged and selective? Would a picture of some other part of our lives–excluding our faces–convey the same messages abut us that our selfies do? Is that important?
The #SelfieUnselfie Project seeks to explore those very questions:
To be honest, for all my selfies I’ve taken over the years, I found this project difficult. I looked around the spaces I typically occupy–searching for myself–and wondered if I was anywhere to be found?
Then, I realized I was looking for the girl in my selfies. Not me. Not the person behind the selfie.
Don’t get me wrong–sometimes those two people meet in one. But, oft, they live separate lives. Similar, yes. But separate till they merge in the moment of the selfie. Till the experience and the act of the selfie synthesize them. (Does that make sense? Or, does anyone else feel that way? It’s not that my selfies aren’t me or aren’t truthful depictions of me but, well, the truth is more of spectrum.)
Anyway, what I kept returning to was the bedside table. My bedside table. Dr. Zamora mentioned possibly sharing her bedside table as her unselfie and I was and still am taken with that idea. On my bedside table are the items I obviously want closest to me when I first wake up and, again, when I finally lay my head down. To me, those items embodied, well, me. They’re the most integral parts of me not physically a part of me.
(I shared my #selfieunselfie post on Instagram but wasn’t able to fit everything I had to say about the topic there but it’s all here~)
I post many pictures of myself online and in digital spaces. This selfie is typical of the ones I usually share (in fact, I did post it here on the gram a few months back~). Face larger than life. Skin smooth like porcelain and glowing as if from within. Hint of pink. A light burning low in the background. Not a shiny hair out of place. My eyes staring at you but not–not really. They look through. They look more glass-like. More doll-like.
I look like a doll. Painted smile and all.
Always pretty. Always happy.
What you don’t see in any of the pictures I post are the dark circles from too many sleepless nights. You don’t see the anxiety usually alight in my eyes during the day. Don’t see the clock I always feel ticking away, just behind it all.
You can’t see my bedside table or you’d know me.
On my bedside table, you can see I keep a bottle of melatonin, a half-empty bottle of NyQuil, and an essential oil to induce sleep–my oil diffuser (glowing my favorite purple) just behind my shrine of offerings to sleep. On the wall behind, you can see the shadow of the dreamcatcher that hangs from my bedpost, its black feathers just in frame. Anything worth a shot and if good dreams come too, all the better~
Sleep has always been a problem for me, something I dread even during the day (if you have trouble sleeping, you get the stress). I never know if I’ll get to sleep that night. When paired with my anxiety about time and never having enough–for what? I don’t know–I think it’s easier to understand the other keepsakes. Along with my sleep aids, I have a ball of sticky tack, a fidget cube, and another stress-reliever shaped like a little white kitten to squish. Small stimulants and sensation-inducing toys to preoccupy my senses from otherwise overwhelming me. I’ll even worry the little, purple stone heart beside my clock–though it’s actually a gift from someone I love dearly and can’t be with the way I’d like right now. So, it’s more of a small piece of them to keep close to me.
Anyway, there’s a lot of my anxieties laid bare on my bedside table that you would never see reflected in my usual selfies. If you’re into close readings, you can even see hints of my forgetfulness (perhaps addled by lack of sleep >.>)–a pair of earrings, my bottom ones things I always forget to take out before I go to bed, and my birth control, just peeking out from behind my shrine of sleep aids, close on-hand so I don’t forget.
Selfies don’t usually share these parts of ourselves, despite them being integral to ourselves. (If my melatonin weren’t right there tonight, I’d be at a loss, you know?) Though, I’m not sure if it’s strictly because we want to hide these things from other people. I mean, I’m not ashamed of any of the items I keep on my bedside table. Nor, am I ashamed of my usual selfies. One’s just easier, maybe, to share? There are less questions to answer–if anyone even cares to ask any. Maybe one is more difficult to share, though, because it asks people to care more deeply and that’s not always an easy request to make or meet.
What do you think?
Can you see me in both images? More, do you see me differently now that you’ve seen the other?
(Want to find out more about the #SelfieUnselfie project and installation or find out how to post and share one of your own? Check out the Make Bank on the project.)
Unreflections on Unreflections
When I compare my selfie to my unselfie, I find myself looking for connections more than what disconnects one from the other. Like, I know both have hearts which were both gifts from people I love and miss dearly. (The heart necklace I’m wearing in the selfie was a gift from a therapist whose help and kindness really touched me and have made all the difference so many years later.)
I don’t believe the purpose of this project is to separate us from ourselves so much as unite us. Provide a clearer picture. Emphasize that no sum of parts is greater than the whole they create. Different but not so much as they seem~
But enough about me.
Let me tell you, this selfie unit has made me tired of me lol
When you see your selfie and your unselfie beside each other, what do you find? What do you see? Are you really as different from yourself as you think?
— Kelli (@helterskelliter) February 13, 2018
*For #DDA156 (one I submitted), I chose to share a poem from a mentor book I’ve been reading for my advanced poetry writing course this semester. The book is Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim and I’ve recommended in on my blog before, in the Goodies section. I think the poem relates well to the subject of the #selfieunselfie. At least, it captures the idea of duality and of reconciling with our own duality in order to “let the light shine through”, if you will.
*Btw I think my Google Arts & Culture selfie-match is spectacular, like spot-on:
— Kelli (@helterskelliter) February 13, 2018
— Kelli (@helterskelliter) February 18, 2018
*Another DDA I complete this week involves me writing another short story to add to my unsettling Killing It Tag. If you like spooky or disturbing little story inspired by bot nonsense, I highly recommend checking it out ^.^ Also, this week’s story has to do with sight and vision which is also related to the selfie. Go figure~
(*This is an acrylic cut-out that is a part of a project I am working on it metals that you will hopefully get to see soon btw~)
*Cool and informative article on memes and their connection to Neo-Dadaism, for anyone interested on the topic like me. (Thanks @rissacandiloro)
*A series I’ve been reading that I’ve really been enjoying is V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. It’s her first adult fiction series and it’s excellent. It’s all about magic and travelling between worlds, finding the one that you fit into. The characters are distinct and enjoyable–both to root for and to hate. My favourite character is Holland, in case anyone wants to know~ (He’s kind of awful but I love him <3)
*Has anyone watched Altered Carbon on Netflix yet? I hear it’s good but I’d love a recommendation~
*Also, if you aren’t planning to see or if you haven’t watched Black Panther yet, why not? It was a great movie with some very compelling characters and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet. For anyone who’s hesitant or skeptical because of the hype, I want you to know I was too but the hype was real~ (Don’t let that sway you from checking out the flick)
~Till Next Time~