Selfie to self expression: the selfishness of society

The latest exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery titled ‘From Selfie to Self Expression’, is in partnership with telecommunications megabrand, Huawei. Showcasing works from the likes of Juno Calypso, Gavin Turk and Tracey Emin; this exhibition depicts a binary opposition in tradition vs. modernity, with clashing Rembrandt self-portraits amongst instantaneous “like” buttons floating on Instagram.

The bombardment of selfies evident throughout the gallery is an obvious indication that this virtual borne form of self-portraiture has become an integral part of today’s cultural normality. An element of surprise hits you when you walk into the exhibition and come into contact with hundreds of photographs featuring some form of self-depiction through social media. It is only until then that you come to a clear realization of how deranged the world is to some degree. There is a certain aspect of isolation and sadness when you think of how dependent our current generations are upon sharing digital narcissism, leaving one to question the nature of our seemingly deteriorating morals in exchange for likes on our selfless faces.

The essence of materialism and self-absorption is repeatedly highlighted in the exhibition as well as the critical state of consumerist conditions. Although the notion of selfies have grown in cultural importance, one can argue that the rise in social media has disrupted society and formed a mass proliferation in reality distorting and superficiality. Thus, resulting in self-absorbed individuals who have been conditioned by the ‘norm’ to hunt for more reasons to share their profile shot to the mass culture. The exhibition smartly presents the magnitude of social media usage and it’s level of relevancy in culture now. The rapid growth of the selfie provides a clear scope in the change that is occurring in contemporary society, with narcissistic characters peaking.

Introducing the younger and rather, unborn, future generations to more ‘developed’ self-judgment, hence the name ‘I Generation’. Christopher Baker’s ‘Hello World’ installation at the exhibition projects a vanity induced epidemic that investigates human outreach and the binge of virtual engagement. Overwhelming at first, the installation makes you feel like you somewhat work at an international call centre. However, representing the epitome of contemporary culture’s evolution towards a highly digitalised and technologically advanced age, it successfully exhibits a captivating insight into the multifaceted concept of the selfie. We are living in a technologically driven society today. We are socially connected with a machine as a part of our daily routine. Sadly, if you don’t have enough likes, some have reached the state of undervalue and unimportance. However, although the exhibition does underline the egotistical elements of humanity, it also showcases a range of visuals that question ones perception of themselves, and presents a notion of hyper-realism and the benefit of digital oversharing.

The exhibition is running until 30th May 2017.

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