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The art of the #selfie

A closer look at Like-boosting decorative picture tweaking

The Dutch artists and brand creatives Pinar & Viola’s practice is concerned with radical surface and new totalitarian decadence. Under this Blog, they report on the emerging digital folklore from the wilds of the net. 

The days of the stereotypical selfies are passé. In 2013, a girl with a duck face or a boy with a six-pack snapping a mirror-shot at the gym toilet is just beyond mainstream. Let's be more creative! 

While we become more digital and post-physical, more and more possibilities to creatively mingle and flatten the virtual to the physical emerge. The handiest device to blend into the virtual space is our smart phone. On its screen, image and text merge through a combination of writing, drawing, stamping, cutting and pasting. Now our cell phones work as extensions of our hands, we express our emotions through the digital pictures we snap, upload and share. Our skillfully curated social media photo stream functions as an ongoing documentation of our own existence, and our selfies are especially explicit visual statements of our personal identity.

Thanks to Snapchat we communicate with our friends through pictures adorned with line drawings and Emojis, while the insta-message app Line offers the possibility to be faster than image and more accurate than text. These forms of communication through customized graphics seem to complement self-expression. 

A number of people we follow on Instagram entertain us with their twisted and ambivalent selfies. In our Instagram feed, the portraitures which makes us hit the like, are Astaghfurillah, Tungij, Nightcoregirl and Uknowna. Their non-conforming, skillfully styled selfies are enhanced with an ambiguous mixture of numerous photo-apps. We, Pinar and Viola, are also children of the iGeneration. While xxxillion things happen in the world, we are flaunting our selflies on instagram. Our iPhones contain a chunk of GB of decorative photo apps. These photo enhancing apps are the tools of our spare-time Photoshop activities. 

Professionally, as a creative duo, Photoshop allows us to add and create the uncountable layers that form our overworked images. This production doesn't stop when we leave our studio. An unregulated visual production continues 24/7, thanks to our favorite new photo decoration hobby. Outside the studio we switch from Photoshop to Fun Photo Box, from where we continue with DecoAlbum, DecoPic, LineCamera, SBYCamera, Fear and many, many other apps. 

These like-boosting photo apps enable even the least technically skilled selfie-taker to express him-/herself artistically. The apps function as a virtual make-up artist without borders. From a subtle touch like a virtual accessory on your #outfitoftheday, to a complete make-over: from a duck face to a dazzling extraterrestrial post internet art piece. 

We selected a series of contemporary self-portraits, from our Instagram feed, that speak an authentic visual language matching the current thrills of the www. These 'overworked' selfies reflect the complexities of our times. Intended or not, these skilled selfie-decorators are stretching the norms of beauty, ideal, gender and taste.