The selfie is treated as a despised piece of pop culture, the manifestation of millennial self-importance playing out in our Instagram feeds. But selfies are really just modern-day self-portraits, a tradition championed by some of the greatest artists in the world for centuries. The only difference between a modern teenager and Rembrandt was that Rembrandt didn’t have a selfie stick and an Instagram account.
Now, a group of photography and product design students from the French art institute ECAL have assembled their talents to pay homage to the selfie in a project called #Photobooth. It’s a collection of interactive selfie experiments that are meant to question how digital photography will impact the future of self-portraiture.
The video above gives a decent tour of the wonderfully wild experiements that will be going on at the Milan Furniture Fair, including a mirror that subtly mixes two faces together, a mask that puts LCD eyes and lips over your own, a fan that blows distortions through your own shadow, a photo that takes photos of you, and a teeter totter that takes a full panoramic photo of your body.
It just goes to show, love ‘em or hate ‘em, selfies aren’t going anywhere. But that’s okay, because as digital photography matures, and artists begin to play with the code and hardware as Rembrandt did oil paints, they’re going to get a whole lot more interesting.