Saturday, November 14, 2015

# S E L F I E

(Finding Your Inner Selfie)

Laurie Sikorowski Artist

Oh the ubiquitous selfie, so popular with the pretty young things! Are selfies the height of ego centric self indulgent narcissism or an empowering form of creative self expression? What strongly differing opinions you'll get depending who you ask. My thought is couldn't the selfie actually be a bit a both -as well as something more and at times even less? Time for a little selfie exploration.

Laurie Anne Sikorowski -Selfie Art

Self portraiture has been around since the earliest times but it was in the early Renaissance, around the mid 15th century with the advent of better cheaper mirrors as well as the beginning of a new man-centered worldview that artists began to really include themselves in their paintings. And it hasn't stopped -artists continue to paint portraits of themselves regularly.  I dare say, not an artist comes out of art school, college, or high school art class (possibly even kindergarten) without creating at least one self portrait!

Art - Self Portraits

Then came the invention of the camera and a new way to represent one's self opened up.  In 1839, it is believed that Robert Cornelius took the first ever selfie! Not an easy task as he had to take off the lens cap run sit perfectly still for about five minutes then run back and put the cap back on. How much easier it all is now -just fast forward to the age of the digital camera. No more wasting film to get that perfect shot. We can view the image as soon as it is snapped and then snap away until we have just what we want. All of a sudden everyone is an amateur photographer.  Flip forward to the rise of the smartphone, always right there in your pocket with instant internet connectivity.  It is so easy to point, shoot, edit, post -almost immediate sharing! It feeds our need for instant satisfaction (just blame the microwave) No wonder we have become a world selfie obsessed.
First Selfie
Robert Cornelius 1839
The selfie as defined by the Oxford dictionary is "A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media." In fact "Selfie" became the international word of the year in 2013. Hey Guys did you notice that was only two years ago.  Oh how quickly it has infiltrated our culture. 

According to Sam Laird in Mashable, Jennifer Lee uploaded her photograph on January 16, 2011 then on January 27, 2011, the first day Instagram introduced hashtags, added #selfie and ta-da a cultural phenomenon was created. Now selfies are post by the millions; Instagram, Tumbler, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook,...

So back to the beginning, why do we post selfies? Vanity or empowerment or something else? External validation?  Cry for attention and affection?  Tool for branding and self-promotion? (Isn't is crazy how everything is about branding and social identity? I see it in advertisements, articles, podcasts, blogs, virtually everywhere)

Laurie Sikorowski -Being Silly As A Clown :)

Here is a scary thought -what if selfies actually create this unattainable image of of who we think we should be.  As humans we are naturally competitive and could seeing all these amazing selfies by our peers threaten an already shaky self image?  Could the posting of our self curated portraits (ew.. I look fat in this one "delete", yuck.. those wrinkles (or pimples depending on your age) are amplified in that one "delete") hamper our enthusiasm for face-to-face interaction because what if we can't measure up to this self generated illusion of perfection?  Could we be building an imaginary world only big enough enough for ourself, where we pretend connection but without sharing our vulnerability and truth, an isolated island of one. Cue music now -One is the loneliest number… & fade out
Hipster Barbie Selfie Parody
Socalitybarbie (Ultimate Hipster Selfie Parody)
To keep from staying in that sad dark place (come on, you knew I wasn't going to leave you in the selfie abyss) we must make an effort to balance our time and energies. We must make sure that we don’t let our self worth be influenced by Facebook likes or snide Instagram comments. (For me, this is where my faith comes in and reminds me I am of ultimate value and nothing I do or what anyone says will ever change that)

We need to be present and engaged in our physical domain.  This brings to mind sweet thoughts of my mom. She was such a very “right now” kind of person.  One that I strive to emulate in this aspect as I tend to live too much in my head. Think of your life as a garden and the flowers are the relationships you cultivate.  This takes care and attention.  You must water and weed your garden so that it will thrive and be as beautiful as it possibly can be! (A tangent, I know but when Mom memories come up, I just got to go with it)

Continuing on this positive path, could the selfie be, instead of a tool of isolation and self absorption, a tool of self exploration, a way to explain and share sides of yourself you may feel too inhibited or self conscience to do in person?

Laurie Sikorowski - Creating An Art Show Banner

I will sometimes purposely take a selfie purely to make it my social media avatar (even though I actually prefer a piece of my artwork as my "image" usually) Why? I use this as a statement to myself -Laurie, you are perfect in your imperfectness. You are not ashamed of yourself. This is who you are and it is good enough. You do not fear letting people know who you are even though your appearance has always been a sensitive aspect of your personhood.  You will not wait until you meet that image in your head before you "live". You may never meet all your goals -realistically you just aren't, but it doesn't mean you stop trying and you will love yourself and own who you are in the process!!!! (Just Sharing My Internal Affirmations Here -Pause... Now Dear Reader Do the Same. Repeat After Me -You Are Amazing The Way Your Are!  You Are Freaking Awesome!!!!  Whenever You Allow Someone Else To Slip in Doubt As To Your Incredible Value, Think Of All The Gifts You Have Been Blessed With And Repeat the Above -Daily If Needed Until You Begin To Believe It)

Selfies can be a way of identifying with a particular community.  I am in a “Wear Your Joy” group and I feel this is very true there.  It is a safe non-competitive place to share selfies with a sisterhood of sorts -all on a journey of self discovery and personal style.  It has a very feminine sensibility.  I personally have more trouble connecting in all women environments and here I can work at being more feeling, less analytical, and sharing validation without critique -a part of myself I hope to grow.

Sharing Your Fashion Journey with Joy
(Thank you ladies for letting me use pictures of your posts)
Another way selfies can be viewed are as frozen memories -a tangible item documenting what we are in that very specific instant.  I mentioned to my brother, David, that I really like the memory pop ups -you know the “a year ago today…” things that Facebook is doing now. (he agreed but not without mumbling something about conspiracies and world domination under his breath -maybe I exaggerate but just slightly) There is something nice about the fact that old photos that you’d forgotten come back around as it seems like everything is so immediate and then instantly discarded for the next new thing.

Also are not our social media postings a device somewhat related to the old oral storytelling traditions?  Could social media posting & blogging have become the scrapbooking of the past? (Not that I don’t still love scrapbooking mind you) Do you not wonder what is next? Such a sci-fi world we live in!

My last ramble for today but I think it is a good one (goodness this is getting long with quite a liberal dose of stream of conscience meanderings, isn’t it?)  Could the SELFIE be a sign of self reliance? I mean, isn’t it easier than ever to take our own photo? Selfie sticks (no, I don’t have one -yet) camera timers, flippable cameras -you can actually see yourself as you are taking the picture, so obvious but its only become standard in the past few years, whatever resolution you want, moving pictures, and its only going to get better.  
What a cool thing for us solo travelers and live aloners!  We are going out there and being awesome and doing amazing things -all by ourselves!  We are confident in our independence  and don’t always have to be in a group to seek out adventures.  Now instead of only having a photograph of the mountain of that life changing mountaintop experience, we can include ourselves in the scene.  What would have only been a pretty postcard picture is now something so much more personal. It reminds us that we did it!  _ _ _ _ _ _ WAS HERE!

Hmmm… Maybe I should be taking MORE selfies!!!

Well, I’m wrapping up and I didn’t even get to the concept of creating self portraiture through mediums other than photography.  Guess it’ll have to just simmer until the next post!

So now, YOU (yes, you) go out there and find interesting places to explore, alluring activities to try, and fascinating  people to meet & DON’T FORGET THE SELFIE!

Music: Sharing two selections today since this post took me two days to write :)
Five for Fighting with "100 Years"
Christina Aguilera with "Beautiful"

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laurie Thank you for making me laugh..I have had the same thoughts about selfies! when i see people doing it I think to myself "How conceited!" I am also sorry for your loss my mother died at 59 yrs ago of breast cancer ..I think I was only 30 yrs old? I can be aware of her sometimes too so she is with me so as your Mom...Love your artwork and Thanks for like on my FB page! Encouraging