Art Critic JERRY SALTZ and 12 Supermodels Discuss the Selfie

JERRY SALTZ examines the selfie, its fast history, and prevailing possibilities, while 12 of the world’s sexiest models—including Adriana Lima, Joan Smalls, Karlie Kloss, and Ajak Deng—explain the key to perfecting what is perhaps the most predominantly popular genre ever:

Selfies are usually casual, improvised, fast; their primary purpose is to be seen here, now, by other people, most of them unknown, in social networks. They are never accidental: Whether carefully staged or completely casual, any selfie that you see had to be approved by the sender before being embedded into a network. This implies control as well as the presence of performing, self-criticality, and irony.

When it is not just PR, though, it is a powerful, instantaneous ironic interaction that has intensity, intimacy, and strangeness. In some way, selfies reach back to the Greek theatrical idea of methexis—a group sharing wherein the speaker addresses the audience directly, much like when comic actors look at the TV camera and make a face. Finally, fascinatingly, the genre wasn’t created by artists. Selfies come from all of us; they are a folk art that is already expanding the language and lexicon of photography. Selfies are a photography of modern life.

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good selfie. I like the ones that metamorphose into what might be called selfies-plus—pictures that begin to speak in unintended tongues, that carry surpluses of meaning that the maker may not have known were there. Barthes wrote that such images produce what he called “a third meaning,” which passes “from language to significance.”

Via New York magazine

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