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The first exhibition of the International New Media Gallery’s Collective Curating programme is Between Self and Selfie, an exploration of self-representation online. In the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA and GCHQ revelations in 2013, it is clear that our online activities are heavily monitored: by governments, corporations and our peers. However, such surveillance does not necessarily leave Internet users without any form of agency. Between “self” and selfie is the curation of identity, the exchange of subcultural capital and the practice of exhibitionism. Collective norms are open to both reproduction and contestation through this practice of networked self-portraiture.

Warning: you must be over 18 to view this exhibition as it contains nudity.

The aim of the show is to create a collaborative, crowd-sourced archive that anyone with access to the Internet can contribute to. Use #INMGselfie on Twitter or send your images to selfie@inmg.org. Submissions by email should include your name or pseudonym, the image title(s), and any descriptive information you would like the display to contain.

 

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Theresa Deichert, The person who names the picture in the background will receive a free hug :D, 2013, JPG, 612 x 612 pixels.

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Kiki Reed, this isnt a sexual image or a sexual body part if i dont want it to be and it wouldnt matter if i was 15 or 25 or 55 or 105 its not your right to take away that fact thanks but no thanks etc. its time to give up ancient ideas centred around misogyny and an outdated patriarchy!!, 2013, JPG, 640 x 480 pixels.

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Anon., Anonymous Selfie, 2013, JPG, 700 x 467 pixels.

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Ray Husain, BDAY SELFAY, 2013, JPG, 700 x 700 pixels.

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Claire Lamy, Untitled, 2013, JPG, 640 x 480 pixels.

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diogenesinyourpants, you are not the one, 2013, JPG, 700 x 467 pixels.

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Female Macaca Nigra, Untitled, 2014, JPG, 506 x 700 pixels.

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Isabella Smith, I dun my very first selfie! so on trend rite now👌, 2013, JPG, 525 x 700 pixels.

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Ray Husain, www. I am no longer ashamed of jacking all of my mums clothes and jewellery and I am close to being comfortable in my own skin however I'm still not fully there .co.uk, 2013, JPG, 525 x 700 pixels.

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Sarah Baldwin, #selfie 2014, 2014, JPG, 563 x 565 pixels.

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Mary Bond, Screenshot%2077 from the series autodissociate.me, 2013, JPG, 400 x 324 pixels.

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Molly Soda, Degas from the series Selfies, 2013, GIF, 400 x 335 pixels.

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Clodagh Glaisyer, Good cause this no make up selfie thing - but I didn't wear make up for the first 40 yrs of my life - and now can rarely be arsed - shame that women feel such pressure to continually disguise and primp and preen - make the best of what you have but don't be a slave to peer pressure #justsaying, 2014, JPG, 612 x 612 pixels.

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.Josh Hall, Untitled, 2013, JPG, 467 x 700 pixels.

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Paul Kindersley, Good mornin' I wanna be on #takemeout - @ITV make my dream happen..., 2013/2014, JPG, 422 x 700 pixels.

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Strategic Body Building, MEN'S HEALTH ALERT, 2013, Facebook Advert, 492 x 430 pixels.

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Troy Mariyanayagam, just a bit of rest between sets, 2013, JPG, 640 x 640 pixels.

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Theodora Sutton, Lenin and I would like to wish everyone a very happy christmas! — at Museum of Communism, 2013, JPG, 480 x 480 pixels.

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Molly Soda, Nothing Happening from the series Selfies, 2013, GIF, 500 x 375 pixels.

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Vanessa Omoregie, Untitled from the series CamGirls, 2014, JPG, 640 x 409 pixels.

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Cora Coomasaru, #feministselfie (?), 2014, JPG, 468 x 700 pixels.

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Anon., Sousveillance Selfie, 2014, JPG, 700 x 471 pixels.

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Alex Daish, Untitled Profile Picture, 2014, JPG, 512 x 512 pixels.

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Edwin Coomasaru, Facial (Mis)recognition, 2014, JPG, 640 x 426 pixels.

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Lily JS, Untitled, 2013, JPG, 480 x 480 pixels.

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Kate Shields, Untitled, 2014, JPG, 612 x 612 pixels.

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Rose Rowson, Guess Who Has My Skin, 2014, JPG, 480 x 481 pixels.

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Jane Wells, Untitled, 2013, JPG, 612 x 612 pixels.

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What is the significance of selfies? Join the discussion.

'There is some voyeuristic fascination in looking, but, reciprocally, some exhibitionist fascination in being seen. While being under surveillance is unpleasant for some, others are eager to increase heir visibility. No longer is surveillance necessarily interpreted as a threat but rather “as a chance to display oneself under the gaze of the camera”. The panoptic principle is “turned into the pleasure principle” [...] it is a radical act to install a camera that shows your private life to an unknown audience. This, however, raises a question how we understand exhibitionism? [...] is it possible to understand exhibitionism as a positive term? [...] The regime of shame keeps people meek and obedient as efficiently as any control coming from outside. Rejecting it, is unacceptable and immodest. Further, these controls coming from outside and from inside are most effective when functioning together: the combination of fear and shame ensures submissiveness. Indeed, home webcams challenge these both. By revealing their private intimate lives individuals refuse to take part in these two regimes. If this is exhibitionism that succeeds in overcoming these two, then exhibitionism can truly work as a form of empowerment. [...] Webcams aiming at increasing visibility rather than hiding from surveillance, can be interpreted as a form of confrontation, surveillance turned into spectacle – a form of resistance'.

- Hille Koskela, 'Webcams, TV Shows and Mobile phones: Empowering Exhibitionism', Surveillance & Society, 2:2-3 (2004), pp.199-215.

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'As contemporary social life becomes characterised by hyperindividualism and hypersurveillance, Dean argues the seduction of social network sites is clear: “[they] let us see ourselves being seen”. In a society of hyperconsumption, Bauman argues, we become consumers of our own image and marketers of ourselves as commodities: “that is, as products capable of drawing attention, and attracting demand and customers.” [...] In an age of endless representations, endless self-fashioning, there emerges another, contrary desire: “to be invisible, if only for 15 minutes”. [...] a number of groups now actively resist being photographed, interviewed, monitored, tracked or represented. [...] there is a parallel trend online where users are adopting tools to camouflage, obfuscate or anonymise their presence online. [...] As tools of misrepresentation, they work to mutate the shape of one’s data shadow through the generation and submission of fake information on one’s behalf'.

- Katrina Sluis, 'Image Recognition', Either/And (Published n.d., Accessed 18/12/13, eitherand.org/exhibitionism/image-recognition).

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Edwin Coomasaru (INMG Team), 1/12/13: Sarah Gram concludes that 'in the end [selfies are] about the gendered labour of young girls under capitalism' (http://bit.ly/1lgH1Zl) - but what about masculinity?

bun, 6/1/14: What does this have to with masculinity? That makes absolutely no sense. I have no idea what you mean, but I will add this: Ideals for women are a lot more harmful. Women are taught to be thin and frail and malnourished. They are taught to shrink their voices and all aspects of them. But the false ideal of for men is one of power and strength.

Edwin Coomasaru (INMG Team), 8/1/14: Hey, it’s great to hear from you. I think you’ve answered your own question. Understandings of feminities are structured in relation to masculinities. To broadly generalise, the historic norms in the West celebrate soldierly masculinity and the (domestic bound) women-as-mother. These ideals are propagated through the mass media, culture, everyday activities, etc. With their extensive variety and function as (often) public tools of display there will be a myriad of selfies that perpetuate these hegemonic characteristics, but there will also be many that do not conform or deliberately contest such models. In addition, all these images and symbols are open to misreadings or appropriations (e.g. muscular bodies and gay desire). Indeed, while every society will have specific dominant notions of gender, each subcultural group will have its own ideals which manifest in clothing choices, cultural interests, linguistic registers, spare time activities, etc – in short, ‘coolness’ or subcultural capital. As networked self-portraits, selfies are a particularly useful focal point for studying such rituals in order to ask how subversive they may be. As Catherine Grant says: ‘[t]here is a paradox here—as capitalist image worlds become more invasive on our sense of self, we also have the potential to share images that might help to open the cracks within this same image world’ (http://bit.ly/KrzmfO).

Anonymous, 8/1/14: What makes a #feministselfie a feminist self-portrait? Is it an image of a feminist, or is there something about its visual representation or the context that it is published in that earns it such a label? Can artworks themselves be "feminist", or can they only be read in a feminist way?

js, 11/1/14: you can have a feminist text, why not an image?

Alex S, 11/1/14: Are these selfies just images or are they a collection of text and photo? It strikes me that the titles are important in this exhibition.

js, 11/1/14: are you suggesting then, that a feminist selfie is a feminist selfie because the author proclaims themselves a feminist in the text that accompanies the photo? perhaps the most important part of the #feministselfie hashtag is the show of solidarity

Anonymous, 11/1/14: So even the most patriarchal image of femininity could be a feminist selfie if the text says so? That's problematic.

Madi Maxwell-Libby, 21/1/14: I agree that the selfie is a kind of commodification. Apps like Instagram and Vine increase the way in which things - anything from food, to clothes, to airplane tickets - can become commodified: by taking a picture and sharing it on these apps you're transforming the subject into an object, something that can acquire social capital through the number of Likes it recieves. Relatively inconsequential things suddenly become a Thing that can appreciate in (social-media) value: I've seen lots of people sharing the news that they are going travelling with a picture of their passports and plane tickets. I think it's interesting that words aren't enough anymore: one has to encapsulate, commodify, contain and then promote the emotion/sensation through a medium that lends itself to being commodified, contained, promoted - and validated (through Likes). The commodified sentiment then becomes a visual trend, for example if you search #holiday on Instagram, you can find pictures of passports and plane tickets as well as beaches and tanning. I think selfies are a product, and extension, of this phenomenon. It's a weird kind of branding of your own life...but, I think, quite an enjoyable pastime.

Alice Schinaia, 22/1/14: Are selfies a commodity 'sold' by the user, or is the user the product sold by the social network? www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/dec/18/instagram-you-the-product-facebook

Rebecca Reed, 25/1/14: perhaps we should demand wages for our labour http://wagesforfacebook.com

Luke Underwood, 29/1/14: Does the title of the show foster the myth of a stable, fixed or inherent “selfhood” that is distanced from the curated nature of selfies?

Edwin Coomasaru (INMG Team), 29/1/14: That’s a useful criticism, although the title’s aim is to invite contemplation on the relationship between “self” and “selfie”. On the one hand, to consider what may be “between” emphasises the carefully curated and branded nature of social networked self-portraits. On the other, it is also important to acknowledge that the distance may not be so great – that our “selves” are just as “curated” and mutable.

Anon, 18/2/14: Masks, make-up ... to what degree are selfies carnivalesque

Anon, 1/4/14: Is the #nomakeup campaign a revolution against social norms?

Edwin Coomasaru (INMG Team), 1/4/14: This question goes to the heart of the carnivalesque issue: are the #nomakeup selfies a temporary suspension of norms (and therefore a venting of pressures orchestrated in a manner that enables a population to be better policed long-term, as Roger Sales has argued), or are these photos (if they are not deleted) permanent parts of 'everyday' life: remaining in newsfeeds, on profiles, and photo albums. Perhaps the #nomakeup selfies are both: the viral phenomenon that has seemingly now ended (and as far as I can tell refusing to wear make-up has not subsequently become the norm), but the photographs that were shared online (and backed-up in the cloud) have not 'disappeared' like an ephemeral, undocumented performance.

Anon, 2/4/14: They have now disappeared from my facebook newsfeed

js, 26/6/14: why have you stripped these images of their likes, re-tweets, comments?

Edwin Coomasaru (INMG Team), 26/6/14: A good question. The comments, likes and other networked aspects of these images are, of course, essential to their meaning and function. However, part of the reason this exhibition is different from a social media newsfeed is the "white cube" framing. While it is problematic to remove key contextual information, it's also important to foster a space to think about these images critically as visual documents. Placing these photographs in an (online) exhibition is an opportunity to use art historical skills to reflect on the politics of representation.

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