Inbetween more pressing jobs I’ve been working on a side-project which I think might become a front-and-centre-project next year. I’ve long been fascinated by Instagram and other personal photo sharing services, particularly the phenomena of the “selfie” photograph (annoyingly suddenly in the news thanks to the OED’s PR department making me look like a bandwagon jumper, but I can deal) where the camera is turned onto the photographer themselves. This combination of a private shoot, unmediated by 3rd part photographer, and global sharing platforms is quite potent and the resulting images, where the subject is communicating directly with the viewer, interest me greatly. I’m also fascinated by the dominance of young female subjects and the associated gender politic issues which as a 40 year old male I find awkward to navigate, making them all the more interesting.
To this end I’ve started collecting selfies from Instagram. I’ve set up a few recipes on IFTTT which dump as many explicitly tagged selfies in my Dropbox account. I then sift out the spam, porn and false selfies leaving me with a variety of selfie styles. So far I have 5,404 pure selfies with another 2,000 in the to-do folder, dating from November 15th. The collection grows at about 100 per hour.
At some point I’m going to develop a Selfie Taxonomy but for now I’m putting them in grids. I started with 1,024 which was the nearest square number (32×32) and have since been squaring multiples of 10 - 40×40, 50×50, 60×60 and so on. I also went back and did 10×10, 20×20 and 30×30 for the full set. I’m stopping at 10,000 for now.
These grids aren’t necessarily “the work”. I’m doing them as a milestoning exercise and to help get a visualisation of what I’ve got. I also like posting them to Instagram itself where they’re resized to total abstraction.
Here’s the grids, to be updated as I make new ones. Click for the absurdly large full size versions (in Dropbox - if links break my apologies) where you can see the faces.
I see a dog got through. Damn it! Dogs (and babies) can’t do selfies. It’s impossible!