What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
58 views
58 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
94 views
94 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
130 views
130 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
112 views
112 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
138 views
138 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
210 views
210 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
141 views
141 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
287 views
287 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
232 views
232 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
231 views
231 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
262 views
262 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems
News
17 views
17 views

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems

Jessica Hubbard - October 20, 2018
252 Views

Selfie, Ego, Anxiety: The Selfie and Visual Culture

In a few short years there has been an unfettered upsurge in a journalistic and social media based activity: photography of the self. ‘Everyone is a photographer now’ so the saying goes, but the democratisation of the art of photography has always been a way to understand self-produced snap shots; from holidays to bird watching, train spotting to amateur pornography, all have been consummate parts of our relation- ship to the medium since the wide availability of Kodak’s Brownie box in the early 20th century. We have always been photographers, the crucial difference is that now personal photography has a platform outside of private space. It is splashed and celebrated across all manner of online public spaces, which have an undeniable and heretofore unrealised intimacy with the image producing self. When did this become such a mode of expression? Are we looking at some instantaneous digital index as a replacement for self-portraiture? Can the selfie be spoken of in the same hushed reverence as the fine art of revealing yourself to the world? Perhaps, but what we have instead is artists like Amelia Ulman, who’s recent Excellences & Perfections uses sites like Instagram to create fake selfies documenting plastic surgeries and eating disorders that she has never experienced. Ulman fulfils psychoanalyst Vincent Dachy’s assessment of ‘art as the inexistence of a total image’, by positing a form of metacriticism, she positions the audience in a place where they are forced to question the validity and pathos of feminine subjective projections in online spaces. Her art derives not from the image but from the image’s affect, and specifically the subsequent revelation that all the images were a performance. Ulman seems to want to ask us: are selfies and their related media a space in which to project our innermost selves?

Or are they easily manipulated images of the surface that simply show, never allowing us access to the full story? Ulman’s work can tell us a lot about two distinct but interlink- ing areas that can be mapped onto the space that the selfie now governs, both in our own image making and in culture more widely. The first of these is the selfie as ego. It would be easy here to enact some kind of balletic cynicism, fastidiously tearing apart the banality of the selfie, ridiculing its posturing, its gormless drive to document meetings with celebrities, demarcate the beginning, middle and end of trips abroad; in which the place itself is dethroned to the auxiliary of the frame and instead filled with the photographer’s beaming elation to be present in place we cannot actually view. We may then elegantly sweep into broad questions: Wasn’t that the point of photography? To show us something we have never seen before? To act as a signifier for the memories of real experience, linking to stories and anecdotes of the things we have done with our lives?

It is precisely the logic of the selfie to show not to tell. In many ways we can see the inscribing of the self as both object and subject of pictures as a reaction to the image saturated culture in which we exist. How many hundreds of thou- sands of images exist, more expert- ly arranged more circumstantially caught in perfection, of the places we wish to naïvely capture with our phones and cheap digital cameras? We know that the next best thing to recording the place itself is to momentarily capture our own fleeting existence in this space through the mode of the selfie. There is indeed an optimism inherent in this kind of narcis- sism, it, if only briefly, cements us in place, in space and in time. The selfie shows the world we were there. There are countless breathtakingly realised images of the Eiffel Tower or the Brooklyn Bridge, they may tell us something about it, but they do not have us, an image of ourselves front on, dominating the foreground of the picture, more often than not looking like we are truly happy to be there. But the selfie exists on planes other than our will- ingness to document experi- ences outside of the everyday. To flip the narcissist argument around, one of the things one notices about the selfie is its potential, to return to psychoanalysis, to be an ego machine, a self-assertion of our own individual identity in the hyperreality of cyberspace. More often than not one can notice that selfies are a constant in people’s photographic repertoire, and even, for some, they are becoming the only mode of photography.

Ulman’s work is a testament to the selfie as a diary or a form of capturing oneself in the everyday. There are deep seated cultural issues at play here. This is inherently linked to the other distinct notion ex- plicated through selfie culture: the selfie as anxiety. By saying this I do not wish to insinuate that the act of selfie making is itself a way of alleviating personal anxiety or issues (though of course it may play out in that manner, as Ulman’s work attests), but rather as a much more telling symptom of the cultural neuroses of our contemporary surveillance society. The technocratic construction of the self is multifarious and multifaceted, a complex interrelation of what is now, for many, our online and offline personas. The corporations which govern online spaces; Facebook Google etc. have the ability to boil down complex nodes of information about us into algorithms, feeding the most personal aspects of our tastes, interests, in short our understanding of the world, into loops which relate back to us things which will be subjectively applicable. A regime of surveillance has existed in the physical world for a long time now, our own images are captured by a massive net- work of closed circuit television cameras which feed into control centres, keeping an eye on our whereabouts and activities 24/7. It is perhaps tautological to state that we are the most recorded people in history, and it would not be unreasonable to suggest that there are more filmed images of the public than there are filmed images of fiction, with over 1.5 million CCTV cameras in the UK.

It is a pertinent issue that we are the subjects of a surveillance society, is it so surprising that we have now, in this contemporary moment, become so obsessed with making our own images of ourselves? We may then immediately share them on sites like Facebook which will notice our excitable hashtags: #Holiday! #Paris! #EiffelTower! And subsequently offer up adverts to us, promising cheap return flights and accommodation to newer and even more exotic destinations. But will we not have, in some fragmented way, offered self- created images of ourselves as a point of resistance in all of this? In a culture predicated on the construction of the self through modes of production which exist outside of our control, is image making and more explicitly this new regime of the self-mediation of subjectivity a way of protect- ing us against this unruly gaze? The gaze of the elites and corporations which now create ideal images of us as nodes in a net- work of information consumption? The selfie it would seem offers a last ditch rebuttal, an attempt to create an image ourselves, a striking and truly democratising mode of expression which sees the individual proliferating once more in its most basic form of expression, as simply a human face, selfishly occupying the entire frame of the image.

Tom Day

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
58 views
58 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
94 views
94 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
130 views
130 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
112 views
112 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
138 views
138 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
210 views
210 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
141 views
141 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
287 views
287 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
232 views
232 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
231 views
231 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
262 views
262 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems
News
17 views
17 views

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems

Jessica Hubbard - October 20, 2018
BCU Black Studies Degree Talk
Campus News
20 views
20 views

BCU Black Studies Degree Talk

Matthew Nicholls - October 20, 2018
Bliss Signal Album Review
Music
48 views
48 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground
Arts
67 views
Arts
67 views

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground

Hal Keelin - October 18, 2018

Upon my transfer to Sussex University, I found Robert Cowen’s Common Ground a particularly comforting read. After nearly a year out from academic study, I was finally…

What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
58 views
Arts
58 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018

  All you need to know about autumn at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts If you have not seen the ACCA’s new autumn programme, you…

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
94 views
Arts
94 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018

In celebration of Black History Month, Sussex Student Union organised a number of interesting talks and events across October. One of these exciting opportunities was a chance…

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA
Film & Theatre
79 views
Film & Theatre
79 views

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA

Anonymous - October 10, 2018

At the outset, Mr Messier’s FIELD at once invoked The Matrix and Daedalus’ Boiler Room set.  The basic concept of this mixed media performance relies on transducer…

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development
Arts
118 views
Arts
118 views

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development

Kate Dennett - October 10, 2018

To commemorate to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, I found it increasingly difficult to draw attention to just one book of relevance in recognition of this…

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective
Campus News
105 views
Campus News
105 views

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective

Chris Ahjem - October 9, 2018

Annually, the University of Sussex welcomes thousands of new students to our Falmer campus and every year the Student’s Union and Brighton based clubs and businesses increase…

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known
News
154 views
News
154 views

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known

Chris Ahjem - October 6, 2018

To celebrate National Badger Day here are 10 fun facts about our animal kingdom namesake Badgers can run up to 16-19 miles per hour which is the…

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
130 views
Arts
130 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018

This coming week marks the celebration of Libraries Week, an event solely dedicated to praising the work of libraries across the UK. This annual event is taking…

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
112 views
Interview
112 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018

The young star is often a tricky title to navigate. There are the big names, who explode into the world with noise, bright light, a big record…

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry
Lifestyle
144 views
Lifestyle
144 views

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry

Rachel Badham - October 3, 2018

Fenty Beauty, launched in September last year, is a makeup line created by global superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as Rihanna. It’s not uncommon for celebrity…

Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
138 views
Lifestyle
138 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018

Once an art form disregarded by many, 2018 bears witness to the continuous rise of drag as a legitimate, celebrated art. Spearheaded by RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag…

In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
210 views
Arts
210 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Alannah Myles, the 1991 Grammy winner for best female rock vocal performance for her outstanding vocal abilities for the…

Brighton Needs You!
News
141 views
News
141 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018

Brighton is a vibrant and thriving city that many students at Sussex are lucky enough to call home. But there are many in the area in need…

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
287 views
Arts
287 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
207 views
Film & Theatre
207 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Olek Młyński - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
232 views
Sports
232 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
231 views
Arts
231 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
262 views
Arts
262 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1326 views1
Campus News
1326 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems
News
17 views
News
17 views

New Aldi Creates Jobs and Traffic Problems

Jessica Hubbard - October 20, 2018

The new Lewes Road branch of ALDI has opened to the public. Its first customers received free fruit and vegetables and the store has proved popular since.…

BCU Black Studies Degree Talk
Campus News
20 views
Campus News
20 views

BCU Black Studies Degree Talk

Matthew Nicholls - October 20, 2018

Students are due to give a talk about the UK’s first black studies degree as part of Sussex University’s Black History Month events. The free event, which…

Go See a String Quartet: Globally Renowned Artists Play for Free on Campus
Culture
116 views
Culture
116 views

Go See a String Quartet: Globally Renowned Artists Play for Free on Campus

Ketan Jha - October 19, 2018

Classical music can be obtuse. It is easy, especially at free concerts occupied largely by octogenarians, to get lost between movements and melodies. This is especially true…

Bliss Signal Album Review
Music
48 views
Music
48 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

  CD/Vinyl/Download At first glance, the worlds of black metal and electronic dance music do not seem to have very much in common. The former is characterised…

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex
Campus News
27 views
Campus News
27 views

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex

Jessica Hubbard - October 18, 2018

A new Student Energy Project has started at Sussex. The project is run in collaboration with The Student Energy Project, the University Sustainability team and Sussex Students’…

Name Changes Made Easier for Students
Campus News
35 views
Campus News
35 views

Name Changes Made Easier for Students

Matthew Nicholls - October 18, 2018

The University of Sussex will now accept unenrolled deed polls as proof of name change to those who wish, granting more freedom and anonymity to those in…

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors
News
50 views
News
50 views

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

The court of appeal has quashed sentences handed to 3 fracking protestors calling them "manifestly excessive". Jail sentences of 15- 16 months were given to the three…

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit
News
60 views
News
60 views

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

Veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, gave a talk on campus. Known for his work with the LGBTQ+ community, he spoke about free speech under attack and…

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’
News
38 views
News
38 views

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’

kenyon55 - October 17, 2018

The NUS has expressed its support for a national referendum on the final Brexit deal, also referred to as a ‘People’s Vote’. This came after Labour MPs…

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter
Campus News
37 views
Campus News
37 views

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

An open letter started by Sussex academics has gained over 1,000 signatures. The letter, entitled ‘Open letter from UK academics: The harsh sentencing of anti-fracking campaigners sets…

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes
National News
76 views
National News
76 views

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

Written by Danielle Ball Shocking witness statements have been heard from the fire crew and call handlers involved in the response to the tragedy The Grenfell Tower…

Renting Unaffordable for Young People
National News
57 views
National News
57 views

Renting Unaffordable for Young People

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

South East among the most expensive areas to rent as revealed by BBC research. Research carried out by The BBC has found that renting is unaffordable for…

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns
Music
69 views
Music
69 views

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns

Lara Antoine - October 13, 2018

Photo by Vojta Dvrocek Whether you’ve seen him in Ezra Collective or featuring alongside other breakthrough neo-jazz artists like Mr Jukes. Pianist Joe Armon-Jones is no stranger…

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur
Arts
74 views
Arts
74 views

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur

Olek Młyński - October 11, 2018

The newest film from the notorious Gaspar Noé was so critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival that the director himself could not believe it. Climax opens…