Like meme images selfies are something we probably do not need to explain to you. They are a form of public media expression that has evolved into a thing of their own because of networked social media, and to many, a genre of digital art.
While self-portraits have been around maybe as long as someone picked up a brush-like tool, as Vulture’s comprehensive article on the History of the Selfie notes:
These are not like the self-portraits we are used to. Setting aside the formal dissimilarities between these two forms—of framing, of technique—traditional photographic self-portraiture is far less spontaneous and casual than a selfie is. This new genre isn’t dominated by artists. When made by amateurs, traditional photographic self-portraiture didn’t become a distinct thing, didn’t have a codified look or transform into social dialogue and conversation. These pictures were not usually disseminated to strangers and were never made in such numbers by so many people. It’s possible that the selfie is the most prevalent popular genre ever.
The Opener: The Arts and Culture App
Google launched the Arts and Culture App as a means to connect people with a vast amount of art work
The Google Arts & Culture platform hosts millions of artifacts and pieces of art, ranging from prehistory to the contemporary, shared by museums across the world. But the prospect of exploring all that art can be daunting. To make it easier, we dreamt up a fun solution: connect people to art by way of a fundamental artistic pursuit, the search for the self … or, in this case, the selfie.
The idea is you take a selfie with the app, and let their experimental algorithm use facial recognition technology to try and match it to art in the collection.
Rather fun right? Perhaps you already tried it?
(By the way, Google doesn’t use your selfie for anything else and only keeps it for the time it takes to search for matches.)
And it does come up before you use the app:
Do we know that? Hmmmm.
But there’s more to worry about. Many have noticed that the results of the match are much less successful if you don’t have a white face, suggesting there is a racial bias in this app. And it’s more than an art app, facial recognition has much wider uses, and researchers have shown accuracy is much higher if you are whiter.
By no means are you required to post your own face on line o test it, you can flip the camera around to forward facing, and try using images of faces. I tried a few experiments this week:
You may want to think about what is being matched here. And the implications for cameras in public places to do this.
More Resources on Selfies
- Courtney Seiter, The Psychology of Selfies, Why We Love Taking and Viewing Photos of Faces, BufferSocial, June 2015
- Memes For National Selfie Day That Are #RidiculouslyFunny https://www.bustle.com/p/memes-for-national-selfie-day-that-are-ridiculouslyfunny-64826 (Bustle, June 17, 2017)
- Facebook recognition story Sharing in the Age of Platforms and Machine Learning: Public Data vs. Training Data & Why We Should Know the Difference https://medium.com/@billhd/sharing-in-the-age-of-platforms-and-machine-learning-public-data-v — read how the benign act of sharing our then-now photos on Facebook might be feeding AI algorithms
- Andrew Watts. Teenagers View on Social Media: Written by an Actual Teen. BackChannel, Jan 2015
- Robert P. Jones. Self-Segregation: Why It’s So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson The Atlantic, Aug 2014
- selfiecity “investigates selfies using a mix of theoretic, artistic and quantitative methods: We present our findings about the demographics of people taking selfies, their poses and expressions. Rich media visualizations (imageplots) assemble thousands of photos to reveal interesting patterns. The interactive selfiexploratory allows you to navigate the whole set of 3200 photos. Finally, theoretical essays discuss selfies in the history of photography, the functions of images in social media, and methods and dataset.”
- Danah Boyd. White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook (2011). In Race After the Internet (eds. Lisa Nakamura and Peter A. Chow-White). Routledge, pp. 203-222.
- Narcissistic, Maybe. But Is There More To The Art Of The Selfie? NPR Podcast July 2015
- Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie (Jerry Saltz, Vulture)
- What’s Wrong With These Selfies? Everything (The Forward)
- Selfies Are Art (The Atlantic)
The outcry about teens photographing themselves misses the fact that—like novels, film, or, yes, self portraits—selfies can express all sorts of things.
- Pictures of People Taking Selfies The all encompassing compendium for capturing wild selfies!
- Me, My Selfie And I: Self-Expression In The Digital Age (Intelligence Squared podcast)
- Prof. Mark Marino’s “Selves & Selfies: Performing Identity Online” course: http://selvesandselfies.blogspot.com/p/course-readings.html
- “Selfie Culture” thread at Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/selfie-culture/
- Selfie Assignment By Mark Marino https://medium.com/buzzademia-now/know-thy-selfie-8c0c023372b#.ou2qxf7oc
- Selfie Assignment By Adeline Koh- http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/know-thy-selfie-a-selfie-group-discussion-assignment/59627
- The True Mirror http://www.truemirror.com/ purports to reveal our “true” image. not the typical mirror reversed one we see. See also Hair Part Theory https://hairparttheory.com/ which suggests the side of our head a part appears on dramatically changes how we are perceived.
- Selfie deaths: 259 people reported dead seeking the perfect picture (BBC) https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-45745982
- Selfies at Funerals http://selfiesatfunerals.tumblr.com/
- Yolocaust https://yolocaust.de/