Last month I went to The Photography Show in Birmingham. I saw lots of things, mainly a lot of people with massive camera lenses, large sandwiches and big bags full of sandwiches and lenses. My prime objective was to collect pamphlets for collaging and claim the free cup of tea that was promised on my entry pass. This tea could only be collected between 10:30am and 11am and as I got there at quarter past eleven naturally it wasn’t accepted. Onward and upwards. After lots of walking, looking, sitting and more looking I came across the Format stand. Inside was covered with paper all with pictures of people on being printed off and then falling to the floor. A thermal till receipt printer had been set up to print off a picture every couple of seconds from Instagram RSS feeds by using hashtags of the words #selfie . #formatselfie also worked.
It was by the artist Tom Stayte and this is his statement about it-
‘#selfie examines how image sharing and the Internet have changed the role of authorship in the digital age. The process of creating and disseminating imagery has fundamentally changed in the new context provided by digital photography, smartphones and more recently the ‘selfie’. Using bespoke computer software, Stayte accessed the publicly available RSS feeds provided by Instagram and appropriate imagery tagged #selfie seconds after it is published. Open source facial recognition libraries then scan the images to identify instances of the now ubiquitous single person, arms length portrait.
These images are printed using a thermal receipt printer and allowed to fall to the floor and accumulate. Through physical transformation and defamiliarization of this seemingly harmless content, #selfie highlights our readiness to trust the unknown and reveals its darker side; our unconscious participation in self-surveillance and the notional freedom it brings. Self-portraiture is as old as the portrait genre itself, but does the new phenomena of the selfie really fit neatly into this category?
The selfie is now a popular form of self-evidence, but the medium of communication is actually more significant than the content of the images themselves. That medium, social media sharing, provides purpose for this self-evidential photographic practice. Stayte invites the viewer to consider their own response to this condition. What drives this newly found need to publicly evidence oneself through a lens? Is the selfie simply narcissism? Is it meaningless? Or does its mis-representative nature echo a deeper truth about the photographic image?’
www.tomstayte.co.uk http://www.formatfestival.com/artists/tom-stayte– accessed 6th April 2016.
I loved it and it was my most favourite thing of the whole day. I liked how the images fell to the floor as if they had ceased importance and also I was surprised and a bit shocked at how many selfies where being printed off each minute, each second even. I took a picture for printing but of the selfies on the floor not of my face. Louise from Format took a picture of my feet and printed it off for me to keep forever. Other things I liked from the day- The atrium section with it’s oranges and lines. The word ‘Cloaks’ on the wall. A secret camellia that was flowering and showing off through the window.