In a relatively short span of time, Jade Paton’s Selfie Portrait project – officially titled Self(ie) Obsessed – has amassed a large response.
Jade has been collecting submissions since September under the basic instructions of “Take a 15 second video clip of yourself, holding a pose for the duration of the recording.” The results are sent to Jade via email, and are uploaded regularly to Selfie Portraits on Instagram (where you’ll most likely spot a few familiar faces.)
Along with two other series of still images, Jade is exhibiting Self(ie) Obsessed for her graduate show at Michaelis School of Fine Art. Curious about the project and her thinking behind it, we chatted to Jade to find out more.
To start, tell us a more about yourself…
My name is Jade Paton. I am about to graduate from Michaelis School of Fine Art and am officially a cyber stalker.
When did you start your project, Self(ie) Obsessed?
I started this project in September. I chose to scrap everything I was working on this year and to take this new direction.
Tell us more about the project and your initial thoughts around it…
While some see the rise of the selfie as a metaphor for our narcissistic culture, others see it as democratising the practice of self-portraiture. Instagram allows for immediate photo-manipulation and enhancement – through the use of filters the self can be reimagined. What is fascinating about the selfie is that it has been embraced by celebrities who often show aspects of their day-to-day lives that we were previously not given access to. While this demystifies their otherwise “larger than life” stature, it also creates new avenues of desire in terms of images that we want to emulate.
Our desire to create celebrity has become so wide-spread, that we turn the camera on ourselves in an attempt to gain followers, through social media. In a similar vein to Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame”, I have chosen that people represent themselves in a 15 second self-portrait video clip on Instagram. The subjects have total control over self-representation, being the represented and the representor. Theoretically this personalised authorship could render a previously unsurpassed degree of individuality in terms of representation, and it is precisely this that I am investigating.
Through use of moving still images, authenticity of representation is examined. A moving still has the ability to draw in the viewer, making for a more immersive experience. It also has the ability to dissect the act of self representation where subjects interact with themselves and often the process is an on-going (re)negotiation of self image, where subjects appear to flirt with themselves in quite a narcissistic fashion. I am also interested in examining and subverting the usual relationship that viewers have with images online where vast amounts of visual data are processed in short amounts of time. By letting participants perform, as they want to in front of the camera, I am capturing subjects in moments that are both self-conscious and unwittingly revealing.
What has the response been like so far?
The feedback has been very positive and the majority of people that I have approached have found the idea interesting, and there has been a great willingness to participate, both in terms of submitting images and engaging in discussion.
Have you come to any realisations since the project began?
In our internet/social media age the subject of choice is the self.
You’re exhibiting Self(ie) Obsessed at your graduate show. Do you plan to bring it to a close then, or is it something you’d like to carry with on indefinitely?
I definitely intend for it to be an on-going project and I am interested to see how it develops over time.
For the show, are you working on additional pieces to be exhibited alongside the videos?
I am working on two other series of still images. These also investigate notions of representation and the construction of the self.
In the first I am taking selfies where I transform myself into various female characters or types. Through my creation of these fictional characters, the very notion of the construction of images and art is investigated. Like the selfie that tries to represent glamour where there is none, my images look at the extent that reality is a simulation, creating the event rather than recording it.
My third series is concerned with the notion of effacement, where the camera appears to have turned on itself – instead of capturing likeness and individuality, it has obliterated. The series came about through my finding previous failed attempts at capturing images of myself in front of mirrors, where the reflection caused by the flash of the camera has negated the primary area of focus, my face. These selfies are taken in changing rooms, where I am trying on an outfit from the store. I find the changing room interesting because it is both a place of fantasy and transformation – an intersection between the real and the imagined. The images have an icon-like feel to them, where the lens flare has created halos.
Have you been surprised by the outcome of the project so far?
I was pleasantly surprised by people’s willingness to participate and by the interest surrounding it. People from all over the world are submitting their portraits.
In a more general sense, what are you influenced and inspired by?
I am interested in popular culture, social networking, celebrities, fashion, reality television, the Internet and all things glamorous and beautiful.
Finally, we’d like to know a bit more about your plans going forward…where to from here?
I would definitely like to travel or live abroad. I plan on making art and working with other young creative people. Possibly starting a collective.
To submit your own selfie for Jade’s project, here’s what you need to do:
- Take a 15 second clip on Instagram or a camera phone, where you hold a pose for the duration of the recording. A selfie is a picture of yourself taken by yourself. Location, pose, outfit are all up to you. Shooting during the day is preferable because the quality is better.
- Submissions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (make sure to send the saved file)
View more selfies at www.instagram.com/selfieportraits