Is the selfie the descendant of the self portrait or are they actually from different planets? Can the selfie be seen are a self portrait or is there actually no artistic bone in her body? Let us first explore what these two entities are, what makes them tick and where they lack before we start scrutinising bloodlines.
What is a self-portrait? A picture of oneself done by oneself in any medium imagined. The aim? This can be an exploration of oneself, physical, emotional or spiritual. Or the process of conceptually representing oneself to communicate a view or state of being. It can be a way of documenting a current state or a social comment about ones place in society.
What is a selfie? According to the Oxford Dictionary (added in 2013 and word of that year), ‘a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.’ The aim? To document a moment, a look, a person or a state of mind
But is it art…
So can a selfie be seen as a self-portrait? Does it come down to who created it? The Oxford Dictionary is being a little more precise about this stating that a self-portrait is “A portrait that an artist produces of themselves” This is quite specific. So a self-portrait can only be created by an artist, but how do you define an artist. Can you say someone that applies a filter to a digital image an artist? Does it mean that the selfie I take would be a self-portrait while the one my engineer friend (no offence Mark) takes would be seen as a selfie?
I would ltake self-portraits with my film camera, my DSLR or with my smartphone and the difference to me would not be the person attached to the finger that pushed the shutter but the reasoning for the shutter being pushed. I believe that we can all be artists, we all have different creative ways of expressing ourselves. In my opinion the difference between the self-portrait and the selfie is the thought and the intent. It’s the concept behind the portrait, even if it’s just a visual exploration playing with light and colours, or a thought provoking composition. This put a self-portrait apart from the selfie, not the artist in front of the camera or the platform it ends up on but the fact that it is not just a moment that has come and gone, a frame waiting for likes, but a bit of the truth of the artist being captured in that slit second.