Selfie-Centered

Jun 8 2013 @ 9:13pm


The selfie is here to stay:

By the time Facebook surpassed MySpace’s traffic, in 2009, selfies seemed doomed to marginalization. But a key technological advance occurred a year later: a front-facing camera was built into the iPhone 4. These cameras are now embedded in the face of practically every smartphone and tablet, which means that you can take a self-portrait while looking at the screen, allowing for perfect framing and focus. These days, selfies can look as polished and crisp as posed group shots, and no longer require a mirror or an awkwardly contorted hand.

New apps have also played a role:

The newest, most popular modern form of mobile representation is Vine, an application from Twitter that allows users to record and post six-second video montages on an infinite loop. These clips are long enough to depict motion, but too short to reveal much beyond the video’s central subject. A new version of Vine, launched this past April, included a self-facing video setting. It was heavily promoted by the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first Vine selfies, which have become a semi-iconic, persistent series. In Dorsey’s videos, he stands still while the world moves behind him, captured in infinite loop. Wearing sunglasses and headphones, he appears at once immediately present, filling half the frame, and distant, absorbed in filming, like an auteur in control of the picture.

Dorsey’s Vines suggest that the selfie has come full circle, from a sign of the subject’s marginality to a sign of his or her social-media importance. In these videos, Dorsey is the center of the universe. Isn’t that, perhaps, what social media has been saying to us all along?