Brief: Develop a project around the theme of identity within the current digital climate. This could be an autobiographical exploration examining how you relate to digital culture, or it could be a more critical examination of an aspect of digital culture. 

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The majority of our time is spent online. It is where we communicate with friends., shop, watch TV, listen to music. Therefore it is the place where we want to look our best. When photography was in its infancy, the carte visite was the calling card of choice. Now, avatars and profile photos represent us in the digital spaces of the World Wide Web.

 Online identities are able to be fashioned and manufactured to suit an individual’s intention. A swipe left or right will indicate approval and disapproval, or a simple thumbs up to show that your digital appearance is accepted. 

Ever since mobile phones have had front-facing cameras, it has never been so easy to take your own photo. Also, phones are so expensive nowadays that you risk it being pinched if you give it to a stranger to take a photo of you. 

Furthermore, whenever someone else takes your photo, you might have to make do with how it has turned out. Conversely, when you take a selfie, you can take as many photos as you like, and delete the ones you don’t. An online identity is an ideal self. The one that you want to be. This inevitably leads to a need to manipulate your identity. Ego addresses the selfie culture that has dominated digital photography. 


Possible Themes

I haven’t been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento ‘kids these days’ want is a selfie.
— Taylor Swift
  • Digital identities can be manipulated

  • A person's digital image can enable them to occupy multiple digital spaces at the same time

  • A person's face can be their password

  • Selfies enable the photographer to present themselves in the best possible way - a modern carte de visite

  • Is the selfie self-expression or self-obsession?

  • Are we now just pictures that need to be liked?

  • Digital identities can be hidden

  • To what extent are selfies a kind of performance?

  • QR codes enable information to be hidden - provide multiple layers of information

  • Uploading selfies to the Internet and revealing locations equate to self-surveillance



  • 'Selfie' - slang for self-portrait taken on a mobile device and shared via social media.

  • The inclusion of front-facing cameras on smart phones and the popularity of social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat have made the posting of selfies increasingly popular as a form of photographic expression.

  • Saatchi Gallery in London 30th March 2017 - "Selfie to Self-Expression" Claiming to be the world's first exhibition exploring the history of the selfie from Velazquez to the present day.

  • 'The ego as a work of art: from self-portraits to selfies'

  • The exhibition compares the work of portrait masters to modern day self-portrait photographers. 1500 German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer painted himself to represent Christ.

  • Anton van Dyck (1599 - 1641) was a court painter during the reign of King Charles I. He painted himself as a member of nobility, even though he was just a citizen.

  • Andy Warhol did not aim to provide a realistic representation to himself. He creates roles which are intended to deceive the viewer.

  • Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992) created distorted portraits, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.

  • Ai Weiwei is a Chinese dissident, who uses selfies to send strong political messages.

  • More photos were taken in 2013 than in the whole history of photography. 'Selfie' became the word of the year.

  • Fans imitate their idols by self-portraying.

  • The famous are closer to their fans through the use of social media.

  • The number of 'likes' will determine the acceptance of internet users.

  • Every 19 minutes, somebody has their lips operated on to make them thicker.

  • Nose reduction and eye wrinkle correction have increased by 20% among young people.

  • Many apps are available, which enable the user to alter their face shape and smooth their skin.

  • The landscape and monuments have become mere contextual features.

  • The selfie provides proof of 'I was there.'

  • In 2016, 127 people have lost their life while taking a selfie.

  • Selfie contemplation is putting an end to personality and criteria.

  • 1839 - Robert Cornelius created the first self-portrait, using a daguerreotype.

  • 1900s - Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna took her own pictures using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. She was 13

The Selfie Project - Kristoffer Eliassen - explores the relations between man and technology. 

24 billion selfies were uploaded in 2015


Lance Phan - an illustrator who has developed the ability to transform people into a cartoon character. 

Amelia Ulman

Trish Morrissey

Tomoko Sawada

Brandon Juhasz

Barbara Baldi

Diane Meyer

John Chervinsky

Broomberg and Chanarin

Andy Warhol

cindy sherman

Ai Weiwei

Barbara Iweins

Karl Baden

Corrine Vionnet

Teresa Eng

David Hockney


The most popular selfie locations in the world

  1. The Eiffel Tower

  2. Disney World - Epcot and Cinderella's Castle

  3. Burj Khalifa in Dubai

  4. Big Ben

  5. The Empire State Building

  6. Sagrada Familia

  7. Disneyland, Paris

  8. The Collosseum

  9. Top of the Rock, Alcatraz

  10. London Bridge, looking towards Tower Bridge


Types of Selfie

  • reflected

  • disguised

  • obscured

  • photobooth

  • eyes closed

  • shadow

  • feet

  • surreal

  • scanner

  • Las Meninas

  • Mask

  • fake

  • distorted

  • cubist

  • meta (selfie of a selfie)

I photograph, I document, therefore I am.
— Alain Bieber, curator of 'Ego Update. The Future of Digital Identity' in the NRW-Forum in Dusseldorf.

'Ego Update. The Future of Digital Identity' Explored how the digital age has altered who we are. 

'Selfie, the portrait of the Ego' Llúcia Ramis (2017) in the New Barcelona Post


Greyscale photo to enable QR code to be read easily.

Greyscale photo to enable QR code to be read easily.



Selfie with QR Code Overlay. When scanned, the QR code points to this web page.

Selfie with QR Code Overlay. When scanned, the QR code points to this web page.

QR Code Selfie

QR Code Selfie



Eiffel Tower Selfies, appropriated from the Internet, and combined to create a composite image.

Eiffel Tower Selfies, appropriated from the Internet, and combined to create a composite image.

Image ideas

Facebook profile photos

grape / wine

cat / lion

3 iPhones - different facial features


QR code montage

Zebra with QR code link to news article

8-bit patternised photos

Pixelated images

Selfie sticks