Passionate debate at the National Portrait Gallery.
23 Jan 2014
An event held at the National Portrait Gallery and led by University of Brighton Faculty of Arts researcher Dr Annebella Pollen, drew a capacity crowd last week.
At the close of 2013, Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘selfie’ to be the word of the year, based on its popularity of usage. At its most simple, the term is used to indicate a self-portrait made with a handheld digital camera or camera phone.
The simplicity of the term and the widespread popularity of the practice, however, conceal some greater complexities in relation to morality, identity, technology, performance and memory – issues that are core to the history of photography but also stretch much further beyond. As such, the event at the National Portrait Gallery brought together a wide range of esteemed panellists to promote debate.
Organised by StudioStrike artist Sarah Howe and UCL Philosophy student Mihnea Chiujdea, and led and chaired by Annebella Pollen, contributors included Paul Snowdon, Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at UCL; Dr Eugenie Shinkle, Senior Lecturer in Photographic Theory and Criticism at University of Westminster; renowned photographer and phototherapy pioneer Rosy Martin and neuroscientist James Kilner. The event also featured the work of more than 130 photographers who engage with the concept of the ‘selfie’ and who had entered an associated competition.
The two winners, Parisian photographer Catherine Balet and University of Brighton BA(Hons) Photography student Jure Kastelic, also took to the stage.
Dr Pollen said: "It was testament to the popularity of the topic that queues were forming at the door of the venue 90 minutes beforehand; during the event the lecture theatre was at capacity with many hopeful attendees sadly turned away. Audience contributions were passionate; this is, after all, a subject that everyone owns."
Further events are planned to continue the discussions.