About the Anti-Figurativeness of #selfie. (Location of #selfie)
In this paper, I propose that what I will call “#selfie” is far from being a figurative object as it is generally assumed, since figurativeness is not an accidental consequence. As 'figurative', we mean the quality of the image with iconic reference to objects and subjects belonging to the natural world (beings, phenomena, things). According to Greimas (1984), in order to analyse a work of art you must first determine whether it is of a figurative or abstract kind and, therefore, whether it represents icons that are related to the natural world (beings, phenomena, objects) or those which have no figurative references. Based on a number of examples of #selfies, I shall instead demonstrate that the context in which these self-portraying pictures are taken, as well as the online and social environment in which they are shared, are more important than the self-portrayed subjects themselves. The hashtag “#”, in fact, indicates the centrality of the tag, the gesture of tagging, which is considerably more important than the fact of being self-portrayed through the #selfie. This implies that research on the practice of taking and sharing #selfies should (re)consider the current discussion focus on all those contemporary phenomena that are fostering and developing self-expression through new media. Taking into account the reflections made by Esposito on the impersonal (2007) and the research by Villa on contemporary self-portraits (2012, 2013), I will try to relate the production of #selfies to the practices of conceptual art (eg. Location of the I by Martin John Callanan), rather than privileging the idea of artistic (self)representation.