This week on my journey to getting my Art Ed. degree…
Both selfies & self-portraits express visions of myself in time. Each serves as nostalgic reminders of my past and communicates how I wish to be perceived by others.
The selfie requires more spontaneity and invites the viewer into a conspiracy on where I am and how it felt to be there. It communicates within the relationship between myself and my intended audience. It becomes an artistic expression because it seeks to express a unique perspective that evokes a response. To quote Jerzy Kosinski: “The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke”. Selfies inspire reactions from my audience and can inspire discussions. For more on Selfies, read this insightful article in The Guardian: How Selfies became a global phenomenon. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/14/how-selfies-became-a-global-phenomenon
In “Where Am I?”, you may not know this posed face expresses a mix of concentrated-thinking and amusement. Because I dislike having my picture taken, this snapshot might only evoke reactions & questions from my friends. This aspect of an ‘inside joke’ defines a major aspect of my selfies. To extend the conversation to the casual viewer, I chose a monochrome setting; adding a level of inquiry about my mood to the discussion, and enhancing my expectation to receive feedback on how I am perceived by others.
The self-portrait requires greater intension and seeks to dictate a message and/or vision of my choice and creation. It aims to express a truth about the subject of the portrait. It can also be a tool for introspection and reflection on my state of mind at that time, or on a chosen memory of my past. It’s a created gift to myself and others. For more on Self-Portraits, read this interesting article in Artist Network: What Artists Reveal with Self-Portraits.
In “Who Am I?”, I framed a story of how I wish you to see me. Behind the portrait of my family you see me looking back at you, inquiring what impression you have of me. I chose to have my eyes above the phone image, engaging you in conversation and blurring the distinction between who is watcher and who is watched. This image is intended to show more than how I am right now; it tells stories of my ideal self and my self-image.
Never before in history have humans processed information on a such massive scale. Written word becomes too slow to deliver all we want to know. We view hundreds of images on social media every day and seldom read the stories behind them. Photographs become the story and teach us about the world we live in. They serve political or aesthetic purposes, and these distinctions are equally the responsibility of the viewer and photographer. Regardless of the intent of the photographer, we must choose to believe what we see. Perhaps the role of the photographer today, both photojournalist and artist, is to capture images that push our beliefs in different directions, to evoke the discussions that may lead to change. Photography remains a form of communication tying sender and receiver in conversation.
I consume photography from multiple open-source platforms. I feel I have sought most of them out with intention, but I am increasingly aware how big data guides my viewing habits. So, I choose to frequently change my searches and look outside the suggestions offered by my social-media feeds. Photography is my practical tool for getting clarification on a grocery list item, sharing a comment on something I see, and documenting my interests, or creative output. Photography inspires my creativity, challenges my perceptions, teaches me new skills, entertains me, and informs me.
Photography has a reflexive and transformative role in education. It should be used to foster critical thinking, increase understanding of the world and the self within it, improve communication skills, or offer alternate ways of communicating, and inspire hope. Our world is full of wonder and diversity. Photography offers us visual evidence of different ways of being and seeing, and develops our understanding of others. It shakes our preconceptions and show us the gift of possibility.We must use it to create safe and enjoyable learning environments where everyone has a perspective and they can all be possible. When everything is possible, we are more motivated to try anything, and that is when we grow!