Me, My Selfie and I: Self-Expression in the Digital Age

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We are living in the age of selfie mania. Everyone from the Pope to Obama has appeared in one. In the past, only a handful of people were able to propagate their own images, whether it was artists like Rembrandt or Van Gogh painting self-portraits, society beauties commissioning fashionable artists to create a flattering likeness of themselves to be admired by a select few. But now, the smartphone has democratised visual self-expression. The instant transferability of photos to social media and imaging apps at our disposal allow us all to constantly ‘curate’ our look and present ourselves as we want the world to see us, recording ourselves day by day.

But what effect is this cultural addiction having on us? Do we look out at our exciting world as observers full of curiosity, or do we simply wonder how we look in it, and what filter would work best? Has the selfie reduced life to a popularity contest governed by likes, Instagram followers and Facebook friends? How do we deal with the increasing social pressure to constantly post images of an impossibly perfect self?

in July 2017, Huawei and the Saatchi Gallery brought together a panel from the worlds of cultural criticism, social media and neuroscience to discuss the impact of selfie culture from a multitude of perspectives. The event was hosted at the Saatchi Gallery, where the exhibition ‘From Selfie to Self-Expression’, presented by Huawei was on display.

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