How to see the world- Nicholas Mirzoeff

In Mirzoeff’s book there is a chapter named: ‘How to see yourself’ which questions the constant transition of one’s own identity in the 21st century. We are in a culture of instant arrival of information, which allows us to constantly reveal ourselves to the millions of social media users. [1] The long history of self- portraits has been made into a daily performance through the creation of a ‘selfie’ [2]. In 1917 Duchamp created a ready- made self- portrait in a store New York “using a hinged mirror, the photo booth created a five way portrait in three copies”[2]. The project was not only visually amusing but outlines that he did not see himself as one self but as many; he then went on to create work using his alter ego Rsoe Selavy. In today’s society we are in constraint transition of our self- image, manipulating it and adapting it as we see pleased. By taking a selfie ordinary people are showing themselves in the “most flattering way possible”- the selfie “becomes a performance of how they hope to be seen by others”[3]. A self acts as a visual communication of how we want to be perceived; interestingly, women take most of these with “82 percent of all selfies” in Moscow being taken produced by females alone. Despite this, studies show that women takes a selfie for other women’s approval not just men’s despite their sexual orientation [4]. Never has it been possible to express our identity to such a large amount of people at once; further more we have never been provided with so much information about other peoples, especially people who we have never met. Knowing massive amounts of personal information about bloggers breakups, family issue or simply what they eat to stay slim. We are in the century of online platforms allow us to curator ourselves everyday.

Previously in my own work I have focused on identity and what it means to become someone else, I curated myself into someone else’s habits, clothes and reactions. Just as I manipulated my own self- image so do the millions of Instagram users each time they post a selfie.

[1] Mirzoeff, N. (2015) How to see the world. Penguin Random House UK: Penguin (p.g.32)

[2] Mirzoeff, N. (2015) How to see the world. Penguin Random House UK: Penguin (p.g.31)

[3] Mirzoeff, N. (2015) How to see the world. Penguin Random House UK: Penguin (p.g.63)

[4] Mirzoeff, N. (2015) How to see the world. Penguin Random House UK: Penguin (p.g.64)

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